Chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, has called on the Russian government to release US citizen, Trevor Reed. Reed, a former Marine, has been detained in Russia since August 2019 for allegedly assaulting police officers. He was sentenced to nine years in prison in July 2020, a ruling which has been widely criticized by the US government. Reed maintains his innocence and his parents allege that he was wrongfully convicted.
McCaul’s comment comes after the poisoning of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, which many believe was ordered by the Russian government. Reed’s case is just one of many examples of US citizens being unjustly detained in Russia. Paul Whelan, a former Marine and corporate security director, has been detained in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges which he denies. Whelan’s trial, which has been postponed numerous times, is set to start on September 29th.
The cases of Reed and Whelan have strained relations between the US and Russia, which are already tense over issues such as election interference, human rights violations, and territorial disputes. The US government has called for the release of both men and has criticized Russia for what it sees as politically motivated detentions.
Reed’s parents have been calling for his release for over a year, and have enlisted the help of US lawmakers and diplomats. McCaul’s comment is the latest in a series of efforts to pressure the Russian government to release Reed. It remains to be seen what effect these efforts will have, but the continuing detention of Reed and other US citizens in Russia is likely to remain a contentious issue in US-Russia relations.