WASHINGTON — It was a busy 48 hours in Washington for the parents of a former U.S. Marine who has been detained in Russia since 2019. Joey and Paula Reed met with the president, and members of Congress and appeared on national television as part of their campaign to raise awareness about their son’s plight.
When the Texas couple demonstrated outside the White House on Wednesday, their goal was to get a sit-down meeting with President Joe Biden. It happened much faster than they expected. Biden met with them that night for 40 minutes.
“He [the president] was very gracious, very compassionate,” Paula Reed said.
“He [the president] waited and listened until we were through, saying everything we had to say. Pretty, pretty remarkable,” Joey Reed said.
Their son is Trevor Reed. The former Marine from Fort Worth has been held in Russia since 2019. Trevor Reed’s parents told Capital Tonight his health is deteriorating and they fear his symptoms are consistent with tuberculosis. They said they are raising the idea of a prisoner swap with Russia.
“We don’t care how they do it. Yeah, just bring them home. But if that’s if that’s the last option on the table, they need to get to it,” Joey Reed said.
“He’s not doing very well. He’s coughing up blood every day. He’s got a fever off and on,” Paula Reed said about her son’s health. “He possibly has a broken rib, or some messed-up cartilage sticking out on the side of him. He’s getting no medical treatment.”
Trevor Reed is serving a nine-year prison sentence in Russia for allegedly endangering the life and health of police officers. Reed denies the charges, and the U.S. ambassador to Russia called them “absurd.” His parents are also calling for the return of other Americans held in Russia, including basketball star Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, another Marine veteran.
In a statement after Biden’s meeting with the Reeds, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: “During their meeting, the President reiterated his commitment to continue to work to secure the release of Trevor, Paul Whelan, and other Americans wrongfully held in Russia and elsewhere, and to provide all possible assistance until they and others are free and returned home to their families who are advocating so passionately for their release.”
“We understand the pain felt by all of Trevor’s family and friends enduring the nightmare of his absence, which we are committed to bringing to an end,” Psaki said.
Trevor Reed’s parents also met with members of the Texas congressional delegation, including their representative, Rep. August Pfluger, R-San Angelo.
“It was great opportunity for them to really share the details of how Trevor’s doing, how we got to this point, how [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has used him as a political pawn,” Pfluger said. “Our prayers are with Trevor every single day, and their story was very powerful, to make sure that we don’t forget about it.”
After his meeting with the Reeds, Pfluger told Capital Tonight he is confident the State Department is doing all it can and urges they keep the pressure on Russia.
“They’re isolated right now for a reason. It’s because of the actions that they’ve taken. Just like this one where they’re unlawfully detaining and holding hostage a good American that served his country and needs to come home,” Pfluger said. “We want to put pressure on the Russian government, on somebody who has displayed just an incredible lack of regard for human life. We want to make sure that he knows that the president of the United States knows Trevor Reed by name, knows where he is, and is interested in getting him home.”
The Reeds believe Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine is complicating matters for their son, but they understand it also allows them to spotlight his story, and they want Russian officials to pay attention.
“If you actually wanted to have a good relationship with the United States, this would be a good way to start, and especially now that you know, everything has deteriorated to such a low point between our countries,” Joey Reed said.