Rep. August Pfluger is leading the effort to bring home a former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed from Russia, where he was sentenced to nine years in prison over assertions that he assaulted a police officer.
Mr. Pfluger, Texas Republican, has been in contact with Mr. Reed’s family since he first came to Congress in 2021.
“My involvement was, first and foremost, because he’s a constituent or his parents are, and secondly, because it’s the right thing to do to speak up for somebody. Thirdly, because he’s a veteran and he’s being used as a political pawn,” Mr. Pfluger told The Washington Times.
Mr. Reed, 30, has been detained and jailed in Russia for over two years over allegations that he endangered the “life and health” of Russian police officers in a drunken altercation.
Mr. Reed and his family, however, denied the charges against him. U.S. officials have also called the evidence against him flimsy.
Mr. Reed recently ended a days-long hunger strike last week in protest of his detainment, as well as alleged human rights abuses by the Russian government.
Mr. Pfluger led a resolution calling for the release of Mr. Reed in June, which passed the House with bipartisan support.
Since then, the lawmaker said he has continued to coordinate with the Biden administration and his colleagues to keep drawing attention to the case.
Mr. Pfluger praised officials at the State Department for their coordination and highlighted the importance of sending a message that the country backs those unfairly imprisoned by U.S. adversaries.
“There’s very few things that are truly bipartisan,” Mr. Pfluger said. “The resolution expressed that we as Americans care that no American was left behind, and this is an American that is being held against his will.”
President Biden brought up Mr. Reed as well as U.S. Marine and former Michigan police officer Paul Whelan over their detainments in a June meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020 for espionage-related charges.
“I raised the case of two wrongfully imprisoned American citizens, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed,” Mr. Biden told reporters. “The families of the detained Americans came up and we discussed them. We’re going to follow through with that discussion. I am not going to walk away on that.”
Mr. Pfluger said he was in contact with Mr. Reed’s family about a week ago, and has coordinated visits with them in Washington, D.C. and Texas.
“In the last conversation, I just told them, I was praying for him, and that we were thinking about him,” Mr. Pfluger said. “Our office and some people that had served with him wrote some letters to really encourage him both mentally and spiritually and physically to hang in there.”