Fort Worth native Trevor Reed on his time in prison

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WASHINGTON — “Hang in there, take it one day at a time. Remember that there are people here who are fighting for you and who care about you, and they won’t stop fighting until [you] everyone go home.

That’s the advice Trevor Reed, a Fort Worth native and former Marine who was imprisoned in Russia for nearly three years, has for Americans who are being wrongfully detained overseas right now. said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News Wednesday. Several Texans are on that list, including WNBA star and Houston native Brittney Griner.

Last week, just over three months after his release from Russian prison, Reed called on President Joe Biden and Congress to classify the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“Russia has started seeing foreigners there, especially Americans, as hostages, and taking hostages is a terrorist act,” Reed said. “If Russia has developed this kind of strategy to deal with foreign states, and they are going to act like terrorists, then they deserve to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism – not just for that, also for their invasion of Ukraine. ”

Reed was arrested in Moscow in 2019 after getting drunk and allegedly grabbing an officer’s arm as he was being led to a police station.

Prosecutors said he swerved the vehicle and endangered the lives of officers. The US ambassador at the time dismissed the allegation as “absurd” and video from traffic cameras showed no evidence of deviation.

In April, the Biden administration staged a trade to secure Reed’s freedom, freeing a Russian drug trafficker who had spent a dozen years in a US prison. Reed’s family, friends, and White House feared that Reed had contracted tuberculosis in the Russian Gulag, and concern for his health grew.

Reed said he eventually tested negative for tuberculosis, but his doctors guessed that never receiving treatment for COVID-19, which he contracted in May 2021, led to him tearing his bronchial tubes in his lungs.

“That’s what made me cough up blood,” Reed said.

When asked how he not only continued to persevere in Russian prison, but also actively protested his detention – he went on several hunger strikes inside to draw attention to the mistreatment he was receiving — Reed said it was almost pure challenge.

“I knew the Russians wanted to break me,” Reed said. “What kept me going is maybe they can take everything from me, they can cut me off with my family, they can take my books, all that stuff, but they can never break me . I will never give up, and just challenging them was really a big part of what kept me going.

Since returning home, Reed has consistently advocated for the release of other Americans still wrongfully detained overseas. On Wednesday, he attended a protest outside the White House for US Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis, whose family and friends say he is unjustly incarcerated in Japan.

When asked why, Reed simply replied, “I have to.”

“I know what it’s like to be in there now, and, you know, most people, even if they know someone’s being wrongfully detained, they don’t really know what it is. “, said Reed. “And now that I know what it is, I feel like I have a responsibility to do that, to get them out. So hopefully I can help.

Last month, the United States offered another deal to Russia, this time to try to secure the freedom of Griner and another detained American, former Marine Paul Whelan.

“I think the fact that they’ve made this public means they’re definitely taking this seriously,” Reed said. “I’m glad to hear that’s what they’re doing.”


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