Family says US Marine's Russian prison sentence is unjust

Clay Curtis
August 2, 2020

The family of a former U.S. Marine Corps veteran who got a nine-year prison sentence in Russian Federation for assaulting two police officers say the sentence is unjust and politically motivated.

He appeared wearing a facemask 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, who has no memory of the events, denies the charges and says video evidence exonerates him.

"We want our son home, I don't care how", Mr. Reed said in an interview. "I will be asking my government for political support", he added.

Whelan has denied the allegations and has called the case "politically motivated".

Police told the state RIA-Novosti news agency that Reed was involved in an altercation with two women and a police unit who arrived at the scene after reports of riots and took him to a police station.

Reed, 29, of Texas, had been detained since August 2019 on accusations of assaulting police officers while he was drunk.

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'Almost everything introduced in the trial, that's in the case, has been fairly well disputed, ' father Joey Reed said.

The case has caught the attention of US diplomats in Russian Federation and US Ambassador John Sullivan said he was following proceedings along with the trials of other Americans detained in Russian Federation. The police arrived and told his girlfriend they would take Reed to the police station.

Sullivan told NBC News that part of the reason was that he hoped this might prevent Reed's case from being overly politicized. At the police station, Ms. Tsybulnik was advised to return the following morning to pick up Mr. Reed after he sobered up.

CCTV footage did not show the police vehicle swerving while on its way to the station, as the officers had claimed.

His defence team has pointed to discrepancies in the evidence given by the police officers. He also pleaded not guilty precisely because he had no recollection of the incident.

Meanwhile, both the Russian and U.S. media have designated Reed as another candidate for a potential prisoner swap between Russia and the US.

Reed's case has attracted attention owing to the lengthy sentence faced by a U.S. citizen and speculation in Russian and USA media that Reed could become part of a prisoner swap. But last year the ministry raised the possibility that Yaroshenko, who was convicted of drug smuggling in 2011 and sentenced to 20 years in prison, could be returned "in exchange for any USA citizen" held in Russian Federation.

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