Moscow — A Moscow court upheld on Monday the nine-year prison sentence previously handed to former U.S. Marine, one of by Russia as bargaining chips for a potential prisoner exchange. Reed, a 29-year-old from Texas, has been detained since a 2019 drunken birthday party in Moscow.
His family said he was initially taken to a police station to sober up, but after being questioned by agents from the FSB, Russia's security service, he was charged with assaulting two police officers. A year later he was found guilty and handed the lengthy sentence.
Reed pleaded not guilty and said the harsh sentence made him think his trial was "completely political." His lawyers said it was the harshest sentence ever handed down for the charge in Russia.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has repeatedly called the verdict "a miscarriage of justice."
U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan, who returned to Moscow only last week after leaving amid a diplomatic crisis, called the court's decision "another sad milestone" and "another absurd miscarriage of justice in Russia as the world watches," in comments shared online by the American embassy.
"We are deeply troubled by a Moscow court's decision to uphold the nine-year jail sentence for Trevor Reed," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a tweet. "The U.S. will continue to work on Trevor's behalf until Russia does the right thing and returns him to his family. Trevor has been deprived of his freedom for far too long."
Following the hearing on Monday, Reed's defense team said they would apply to cassation, but that their client would not seek a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"A pardon suggests an admission of guilt, and our client does not admit guilt," lawyer Viktoria Buklova said, according to state-run agency TASS. "We believe that the entire body of evidence... confirms Reed's innocence."
Buklova added, however, that "theoretically, Reed can be swapped for one of the convicted Russian citizens in the U.S. for further serving his sentence in America. However, that is already outside of the defense's confidence."
In their landmark bilateral summit earlier this month in Geneva, Putin and President Joe Biden discussed both Reed's case and that of, another former U.S. Marine who's being held in Russia on espionage charges.
After the meeting, the Kremlin hinted that it might be ready to work out a deal for the Americans' release.
Russia has long sought a transfer of two of its citizens held in the U.S.: Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer nicknamed the "Merchant of Death," whom the American side is unlikely to consider including in any prisoner swap, and Konstantin Yaroshenko, a pilot convicted of smuggling cocaine into the U.S.
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