MOSCOW (AFP) — A Russian court on Thursday sentenced former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed to nine years in prison for assaulting two police officers while drunk last year.
Reed, a 29-year-old student and former Marine from Texas, allegedly attacked police after attending a party in Moscow.
He appeared wearing a face mask in a cage for defendants in a courtroom in the Russian capital as the judge read out the guilty verdict, saying the police officers had suffered “mental and physical harm.”
Reed was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony, according to an Agence France-Presse reporter in the courtroom.
“This is completely a political case,” Reed told journalists after the verdict.
“I will be asking my government for political support.”
The case has caught the attention of U.S. diplomats in Russia and U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan said he was following proceedings along with the trials of other Americans detained in Russia.
Reed has been held in a Moscow prison in pretrial detention since August 2019. He pleaded not guilty, saying he remembers nothing of the incident.
His family has raised the alarm over what they say are irregularities in the proceedings and said the prosecution’s request for a nearly 10-year sentence was unfair.
Reed’s father Joey told reporters after the verdict was delivered that he was planning to appeal directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the trial, which he said was “completely corrupt.”
“We are not arguing about Russian law; we are arguing about how Russian law is applied,” he told reporters.
Reed’s case has attracted attention owing to the lengthy sentence faced by a U.S. citizen and speculation in Russian and U.S. media that Reed could become part of a prisoner swap.
In June, Russia sentenced U.S. citizen Paul Whelan, also an ex-Marine, to 16 years in a penal colony for espionage, prompting speculation he could participate in a prisoner swap.
Whelan’s brother David said in a statement Wednesday that “our family is not privy to government discussions, if there are any, about Paul’s case.”
Sullivan has also raised concerns about the case against Michael Calvey, a high-profile U.S. investor who was arrested last year for allegedly defrauding a Russian bank.
© Agence France-Presse