MOSCOW – Russian court ruled on Thursday against a 29-year-old former US Navy detainee last year on charges of assaulting a police officer after a night of heavy drinking in Moscow and sentencing him to nine years in prison Russian.
The sentence of nine-year-old Trevor Reed is close to the maximum sentence for these charges, which is 10 years. He has already been in Russian custody awaiting trial for almost a year. On Wednesday prosecutors asked for 9 years and 8 months.
The accused, his family and his Russian girlfriend all deny the charges. The U.S. ambassador to Russia called the trials flimsy. And all of them alleged that he became just the latest example of American citizens being unjustly accused in Russia.
Ambassador John Sullivan told NBC News that Americans detained in Russia who are receiving unfair treatment from the judicial problem are becoming a more frequent problem ̵1; a big warning to Americans who are considering visiting or doing business in Russia.
“This is not a good story for US-Russia relations,” Sullivan said in a telephone interview shortly after the verdict was issued. “And it’s not good to encourage private citizens and U.S. business to visit and invest here if they did. [Reed] it can be done to anyone. “
During the closing argument on Wednesday, Reed said he does not admit guilt for a crime he did not commit.
“I think it would be ethical and immoral to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit,” he said in his closing statement on the eve of the trial verdict. “If I am going to give a prison sentence, I would rather stay in prison than walk a liar and a coward tomorrow.”
Sullivan said the evidence against Reed strained the credulity.
“The evidence was so flimsy and preposterous that everyone in the courtroom, even the judge, laughed when it was presented,” Sullivan said. “If this case were brought before an American court, not only would it be removed, but prosecutors would be investigated for bringing it forward first.”
Other cases, such as that of former U.S. Navy Secretary Paul Whelan, have gained much more political and media attention, likely due to the nature of the accusations against Whelan – espionage – and the open discussion they use him. as a bargaining chip with the United States.
But Reed’s father, Joey, spent the last year in Moscow in favor of his son in an effort to keep his case from falling under the radar.. Russian courts have an extremely high conviction rate, and assignment is increasingly rare.
“I’m nervous and anxious,” Reed’s mother, Paula, told NBC News in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Sure, I’ve tried to prepare for the worst, but if I really think about it too hard … I’m probably unprepared. You’re feeling hopeless and they’re going to do what they’re going to do.”
The embassy sent representatives to Reed’s court hearings, but generally adopted a more restrained public stance toward the jury process than did the Whelan case – which saw Sullivan often take public action with strong words against -procedure.
Sullivan told NBC News that part of the reason was to hope that this could prevent Reed’s case from being overly politicized.
“I stopped making public statements the way I have about other cases simply because I was giving the Russian judicial system an opportunity to do justice by Reed,” he said.
Reed, a native of Texas, spent the summer of 2019 in Moscow studying Russian and visited his girlfriend – a lawyer in Moscow – and was preparing to return home last August, the his family says. But a few days before his return, he celebrated a night out with his friends and his girlfriend’s co-workers.
Alina Tsybulnik, Reed’s girlfriend, said in an interview that she fell ill while a colleague drove the two of them home. The driver stopped the car, Reed and Tsybulnik got out, and then the driver called the police when it was clear that Reed was in poor condition.
“It wasn’t my idea to call the police,” Tsybulnik said. “It was my colleague who did this. She had never met Trevor before and didn’t want to treat her. He was in trouble, his lips were blue and he needed medical help and he wasn’t answering me, he didn’t know where he was. . “
When police arrived, they put Reed in the back of their car and then drove him to a police station, Tsybulnik said. According to police, Reed became belligerent during the ride and tugged on the driver’s arm – and made the car slide.
He was accused of endangering the lives of police officers, while also hitting men at the passenger seat. Tsybulnik says police presented a torn jacket with a torn arm to the court in an effort to show he was tugged at the driver.
She says it’s just not possible.
“We followed the car and it was driving pretty slow, it wasn’t a swimmer,” she said. “[Reed] she was asleep in the back of the car. That’s why they didn’t take him by the handle. “
Meanwhile, Reed said in previous interviews that he has no recollection of the events – a claim that his family reaffirmed with NBC News.
Joey Reed, a Texas firefighter, became deeply familiar with the evidence against his son while renting an apartment in Moscow – exacting even the COVID-19 location that stopped life in the Russian capital in April and May, he said.
“I told him he should be the father of the year,” Paula Reed said of her husband’s efforts.