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Former US Marine starts hunger strike in Russian prison

Reed's lawyer Sergei Nikitenkov said he started the hunger strike on November 4 following "repeated" violations of his rights.

(AFP) — A former U.S. marine serving a nine-year prison term in Russia has launched a hunger strike to protest alleged violations of his rights, his lawyer told AFP Tuesday.

An American citizen, Trevor Reed is being held in a penal colony in Russia's Mordovia Republic, some 500 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of Moscow, after being convicted of assaulting police officers in the Russian capital while drunk in 2019.

Reed's lawyer Sergei Nikitenkov said he started the hunger strike on November 4 following "repeated" violations of his rights.

Nikitenkov said prison staff had put his client in an isolation cell several times for allegedly breaking prison rules, which Reed denies.

The penal colony's staff is also withholding letters from the U.S. citizen and not letting him "write in his own language," according to Nikitenkov.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Reed's family said they had been informed of the hunger strike launched to protest "flagrant violations of his basic human rights". 

The statement said Reed is being held "in a small room with a hole in the floor for a toilet".

The family said authorities are not allowing the U.S. embassy in Moscow to monitor Reed's health. 

It called on U.S. authorities to do everything to "bring our son home".

"We recall the strong response from this administration when a Russian dissident went on hunger strike several months ago and look forward to our son receiving the same attention," the family said, referring to jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. 

The Kremlin said Tuesday it could not comment on the case. 

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© Agence France-Presse

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