MOSCOW – Texan Trevor Reed, a 29-year-old student and former US Marine, has been found guilty of attacking two police officers and handed a nine-year jail sentence by a Moscow court, prompting media speculation about a “prisoner swap”.
The former marine has been accused of attacking the officers last summer while drunk after attending a party. According to the prosecutors, some Moscow residents called the police when they saw a rowdy troublemaker arguing with two women. The drunk man, who turned out to be Reed, tried to resist arrest, RT reported.
It was inside the police car that the man suddenly became aggressive and elbowed one officer while tugging on the arm of another – the driver – making the car swerve. The judge said in his verdict that they suffered “mental and physical harm”.
The American arrived in Moscow last year to learn Russian and visit his girlfriend, Alina Tsybulnik. A lawyer herself, Tsybulnik told the US media that it was one of her colleagues who called the police after Reed celebrated during a night out with his friends and her co-workers – supposedly because the American was “in a bad state”.
Reed, who spent almost a year in pre-trial detention, maintained he had no memory of that night’s events at all. He also pleaded not guilty precisely because he had no recollection of the incident.
“This is completely a political case,” Reed told journalists after a Moscow court found him guilty of an assault on law enforcement officers.
“I will be asking my government for political support,” he added.
The case caught the attention of American diplomats in Russia, as well as various media outlets. The US Ambassador, John Sullivan, said he followed the proceedings along with other cases involving US citizens. He also said that the embassy took a more restrained stance in this case, specifically to prevent it from being politicized.
Still, he said the case was “not a good story for US-Russia relations”, while calling the evidence presented by the prosecutors as “flimsy and preposterous” and claiming the whole process is a “theater of absurd.” Reed’s family called the verdict “completely unfair”, branding the court “corrupt”. His father Joey also said he would appeal directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the hope of changing his son’s fate.
Meanwhile, both the Russian and US media have designated Reed as another candidate for a potential prisoner swap between Russia and the US. The previous conviction of Paul Whelan, another American ex-marine, who was sentenced to 16 years in Russia on espionage charges, prompted similar speculation. They were, however, dismissed by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.