MOSCOW (AP) — A Moscow court on Monday rejected an imprisoned American’s appeal against his nine-year sentence for assaulting police officers.
The Moscow City Court upheld the sentence issued last year by a lower court, which convicted Trevor Reed for an altercation in August 2019 in Moscow, where he was studying Russian and visiting his girlfriend.
“I regret that the appellate court has not corrected this gross injustice, but it does not in any way affect the seriousness with which I and the U.S. government will continue to pursue this matter for Trevor to get him released so that he can go home and be with his family,” U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan told reporters outside the court after attending the hearing.
Reed was accused of assaulting police officers who were driving him to a police station after picking him up following a night of heavy drinking at a party. The United States has sought his release, saying the evidence against him was weak.
Asked about Reed in a recent interview with NBC News, Russian President Vladimir Putin called him a “drunk and a troublemaker.”
Reed was diagnosed with COVID-19 in May. Earlier this month, the U.S. Embassy protested the lack of consular access to him during his hospitalization and said he had been repeatedly denied phone calls to his family or embassy personnel.
“My colleagues and I were able to speak with Trevor today,” Sullivan said after the court hearing. “He is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstance. He’s a remarkable and resilient young man.”
Reed is one of two Americans imprisoned in Russia under controversial circumstances. Paul Whelan, a former corporate security executive who also holds Canadian, Irish and British citizenship, was arrested in Moscow in 2018, convicted of espionage and sentenced to 16 years. His lawyer has said his client was handed a flash drive that had classified information on it that he didn’t know about.
U.S. President Joe Biden said Whelan and Reed are being “wrongfully imprisoned” in Russia and raised their plight with Putin at their summit in Geneva earlier this month.
Putin had opened the door to possible discussions about a prisoner swap with the U.S. and said those conversations would continue. Biden said he would follow up too.
The U.S. is holding two prisoners whose release Russia has sought for more than a decade, including arms trader Viktor Bout. The other is Konstantin Yaroshenko, a pilot who was extradited from Liberia in 2010 and convicted the next year of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
Sullivan returned to Moscow only last week. He flew out in April after Russian officials suggested that he should leave to mirror the departure of the Russian ambassador in Washington, whom Moscow recalled for consultations after Biden described Putin as a “killer” in March.
During the Geneva summit, Putin and Biden agreed to return the ambassadors to Washington and Moscow in a bid to improve badly deteriorated diplomatic relations between the countries.
Anna Frants in Moscow contributed to this report.