[Photo: Trevor Reed with his Russian girlfriend Alina. He was visiting her in Moscow when he was arrested and charged with the crime for which he was sentenced today. via freetrevorreed.com]
An American student accused of drunkenly assaulting a group of policemen says he's innocent. Russia is sending him to prison anyway, not long after Vladimir Putin's government locked up American Paul Whelan over similarly dubious charges.
Trevor Reed, a student at the University of North Texas and a former U.S. Marine, was sentenced to nine years in jail on Thursday after a Moscow court decided he was guilty of endangering the lives of two police officers who detained him after a party in the Russian city.
Reed said he could not remember the incident, because he was drunk when he was detained.
His conviction adds a new irritant to already bad relations between Russia and the United States.
Russia last month convicted U.S. citizen Paul Whelan of espionage, despite his protestations of innocence, and sentenced him to 16 years in jail. U.S. investor Michael Calvey is being held under house arrest on fraud charges he denies.
Prosecutors accused Reed of grabbing a police officer who was behind the wheel of a car after he was detained on Aug. 15. That, they said, caused the vehicle to swerve dangerously. He was also accused of elbowing a second officer.
Reed’s defence called the charge against him fraudulent.
His legal team said he should not have been detained in the first place and that the officers had changed their testimony throughout the trial.
Reed travelled to Moscow in May last year to learn Russian and see his Russian girlfriend.
More at Reuters:
Russia hands U.S. student long jail term on police assault charge
Here is the campaign for Reed's release:
FREE TREVOR REED