Biden seeks to meet parents of former Marine detained in Russia
President Biden said Wednesday he would try to meet with the parents of Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine detained in Russia.
Reed’s parents were demonstrating outside the White House throughout the day Wednesday to raise awareness about their son’s case.
“I’m going to see if I can get to see them,” Biden told reporters when asked whether he would meet with the family. “They’re good people.”
Biden made the remarks in an exchange with reporters after receiving his second COVID-19 booster dose. Asked if the meeting would happen Wednesday, Biden replied: “We’re trying to work that out.”
Trevor Reed’s parents, Joey and Paula Reed, were demonstrating outside the White House on Wednesday as they grow increasingly desperate to secure their son’s release. They called for a meeting with Biden and sought to raise awareness about their son’s case.
“Free Trevor Reed,” read a sign his parents carried with them. “Prisoner of Russia since 2019.”
Trevor Reed was detained in Russia in 2019 and charged with assaulting a police officer during a drunken incident that he says he does not remember. He was sentenced to nine years in prison the following year and has tried to appeal that sentence.
The U.S. government has called his detention unjust and tried to secure his release, though without success.
According to the family, Reed’s condition has declined while he has been in prison. Recently, they say he has been coughing up blood and they believe he contracted tuberculosis, though he has not been tested for the disease.
“Our son’s physical condition, like many other American hostages, is going downhill fast and so is our relationship with his hostage takers, so that’s why we think it’s urgent that we speak with him,” Joey Reed told reporters during a press availability earlier Wednesday.
The Reeds have tried to get Biden’s attention on the case in recent weeks amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
When Biden visited their home state of Texas earlier this month, the Reeds unsuccessfully sought a meeting with the president. Biden later phoned the family on his way back to Washington and reiterated his commitment to bringing their son home. He also said the White House would work to set up a meeting in-person with the family.
A spokesman said that the family plans to be in Washington at least until Friday.
While in the Marines, Reed was a presidential guard at Camp David during the Obama administration.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has further complicated U.S. efforts to secure the release of prisoners in Russia. Paul Whelan, another former Marine, has been jailed and convicted of spying. His family denies the charges, and the State Department has also tried to get him released.
More recently, WNBA star Brittany Griner was detained in Russia allegedly for possessing vape cartridges.
The Reeds said Wednesday that the invasion and related sanctions on Russia have further limited already sparse access to their son.
Joey Reed told The Hill that the family can’t send letters through the U.S. Postal Service and can’t deposit money into their son’s jail account so he can receive basic items like soap and toothpaste.
Reed said they support the sanctions but acknowledged that they are making the situation “far more difficult” for their son and others imprisoned in Russia.
“The government said that it would probably get worse, and it has,” Joey Reed said.