American held in Russia contracts COVID-19 after denied vaccine

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An American detained in Russia has contracted the coronavirus after being denied a vaccine, his family said Tuesday.

Trevor Reed’s family announced that his symptoms began on May 17 as a fever and a cough and have since progressed to include a loss of smell.

“Despite having been obviously symptomatic, jail officials cleared him to travel to court yesterday to review documents and the judge hearing his appeal refused to order any additional medical tests or to postpone tomorrow’s hearing,” the family said in a statement.

“It is completely unacceptable that Trevor contracted COVID in the first place. Some time ago, Embassy officials requested permission to vaccinate Trevor and Russian officials refused. Trevor now has COVID as a result of a toxic mix of incompetence, recklessness and spitefulness on the part of Russian authorities,” they added. “Needless to say, should anything happen to Trevor, we will hold the Russian Government entirely responsible.”

Reed, a Marine Corps veteran, was sentenced in July to nine years in prison for assaulting a police officer. The U.S. and Reed’s family contest the allegations. 

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The revelation of Reed’s coronavirus diagnosis sparked calls for Russia to release him and Paul Whelan, another Marine Corps veteran who was arrested in December 2018 and has since been held in Russian custody over allegations of espionage.

“If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wanted a stable, predictable, normalizing relationship with the US, he could release unjustly imprisoned Americans Reed and Whelan before meeting Biden next month,” tweeted former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

Reed’s detention could come up at President Biden’s first meeting next month with Putin in Switzerland. The two are expected to have a packed docket and will likely discuss Moscow’s meddling in U.S. elections, nuclear arms control, climate change and more.

Tags Joe Biden Michael McFaul Trevor Reed

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