“Even Efremov was given less, but his son did not kill or injure anyone,” the father of American student Trevor Reed, who received 9 years for a drunken brawl, appealed to the Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights. Reed and Efremov are sitting in the same Moscow SIZO No. 5, only in different cells. And an elderly Texan goes to this isolation ward, as they say, on “dates.” She studies all the nuances of Russian prison life.
He is shocked by the enormous timeframe set by the court (indeed, this is almost a unique case in judicial practice). Reed Sr. explains the extremely harsh sentence by the difficult relationship between the United States and Russia.
Abroad, Trevor began to be spoken of as a political prisoner. But in my opinion, there is no politics in this matter. There is only the well-known “cane system” and mutual guarantee, which in this case can cost dearly not only the Reed family, but all of us.
All this – in the material of the observer “MK”.
Elderly Reed never dreamed of getting to Moscow; he led a calm, measured life in his native state of Texas. It was not the desire to look at the “bears with balalaikas” or even the dream of seeing the legendary Moscow Kremlin that summoned him on the road across the ocean, but disaster. On August 16, 2019, his son Trevor was arrested in Moscow.
Trevor is a student at the University of North Texas, studied at the international faculty, chose Russian as a foreign language. It so happened that he met a Russian girl, fell in love (on September 24, they had a wedding). She paid him for Russian language courses in Moscow – as a gift.
But, as one Moscow State University professor used to say, what foreign student doesn’t like Russian vodka? Trevor got drunk this summer with his Russian friends. He began to vomit, he turned pale. Not knowing what to do with him, the friends called the police in the hope that the guy would be taken to the hospital. According to the police, they were initially summoned because the foreigner was rowdy. The debauche continued in the company car. The law enforcement officers have bruises on the body – however, the foreign student was also found to have hematomas (according to the case file, he received them because he allegedly began to beat his head). Trevor was charged with part 2 of the 318th article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “The use of violence dangerous to life and health against a government official.”
“I don’t remember anything about that awful day,” Trevor told me later in the pre-trial detention center in broken Russian. – I drank vodka for the first time in my life. The vodka was bad. What do you call it – false? And, I remembered: fake. I came to Moscow to learn Russian … In the pre-trial detention center I began to understand and speak well. Such accelerated courses, as inmates joke. But it would be better to learn the language in other conditions, and not in prison … “
On July 30, 2020, the Golovinsky court found him guilty and sentenced him to 9 years in prison.
To say that his father was upset is to say nothing. He was shocked.
And here is Joy Reed – in the office, sitting in front of me. He wants to tell his version of this whole story.
Amazingly, Joy is almost an exact copy of an American passerby whom I interviewed in 2013 in the United States, when I was there on the first Russian-American journalist exchange program. Then, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama jointly approved this program during a period of relative “thaw”. On the streets of American cities, I asked passers-by about Russia and made a video, which was later applauded by both sides of the Russian-American dialogue. The video was about the fact that we are all basically alike, and we have the same problems – human. And now, after so many years, it was as if one of those passers-by came to Moscow to give an interview here …
– Joy, tell us about your family.
– We have the most ordinary American family. I am a firefighter by profession (I was in the position of chief firefighter, I have many merits), my wife is a doctor. Two children: the eldest son Trevor and the youngest daughter. To be honest, I was not particularly interested in Russia. Ordinary Americans are preoccupied with themselves, their families; they do not discuss international politics in the kitchen. And then Trevor introduced us to his fiancee, who turned out to be Russian. A very nice girl. We love her. She lived at our house for almost two years. Then they decided to get married, and Trevor went to Moscow for the first time to ask her parents for her hand and heart. And the second time he went to Moscow to learn Russian (his girlfriend organized courses). He told us that he definitely needs to know the language well, because the university requires. Since then I have only seen him behind bars …
– Is your son a hooligan?
– No, I never fought even as a child! He was a funny, funny and very open child. We made fun of him because he could not lie under any circumstances. Such is his feature or oddity. At school he played football, basketball, and baseball. He was a boy scout. Millions of American teenagers are Boy Scouts, but only one percent or less receive an Eagle Scout award. So Trevor got it. It hangs over his bed.
– Did he manage to serve in the army?
– In America, many guys voluntarily go to the army, because in this case the state pays for college and university tuition. We are a poor family. After the army, he began to study at the university.
– When you learned about the arrest of your son, what did you think?
– That this is some kind of mistake. We treat the police with respect, no matter where they are. It’s in our blood. In America, people consider police officers to be their great friends, protectors and helpers in trouble. This is a highly respected profession. If you ask any passer-by in Texas, “Are you afraid of the police?” – he will not understand the question. Even in a nightmare, I would not have dreamed that my son attacked a policeman. Many of Trevor’s friends are police officers.
The test that Trevor was given the morning after the incident showed that he had the strongest level of intoxication. Our experts believe that he was actually unconscious and could not attack anyone. And he was accused of deliberate attack and “knowledge” of the results of his actions.
– And yet the court found that there was an attack.
– The whole accusation is based only on the testimony of the police. They changed them three times. The first time they said that when Trevor seemed to be rowdy in the car, she drove into the oncoming lane. We asked for CCTV footage: the police car was moving smoothly. The second time they said the car was wobbling. We again provided records for this: it did not change its trajectory. And then for the third time they admitted that she did not go to the oncoming and did not wag, but simply slowed down. We provided a third examination, which proved that the car did not slow down, but was consistently accelerating …
The material evidence was presented to the court: a torn twist of a policeman. But the examination showed that she was torn with her hands like this (shows), and not on one side, as if Trevor had pulled.
We turned only to state experts – we did not specifically contact any private companies. An expert from the Ministry of Justice came to the court. Both investigators and police officers admitted that cameras in the police car and cameras in the police station were operating on the day of the incident. They were unable to explain why the records were not kept, although the lawyers immediately requested them! You see, all the records were deliberately destroyed. What for?..
We thought we had completely shattered the prosecution evidence. Among our lawyers was a former Russian judge (we hired a professional on purpose). He was sure it was a win-win.
– The verdict shocked, I suppose?
– I didn’t know what to expect from the Russian court, because I didn’t know how, in principle, everything is arranged with you, I didn’t know the laws. After Trevor’s arrest, I read a lot about your justice system. I found information on the Internet about a former American firefighter, Geilen Grandstaff, who spent two years in a Moscow detention center for buying a cleaning agent over the Internet. But I couldn’t believe it.
– American firemen are somehow unlucky in Moscow …
– There are three million firefighters in the United States. And about two million of them are volunteers, that is, they work for free. I mean, a firefighter is a very popular profession in America.
And Trevor’s verdict shocked me. You see, he himself said: “I don’t remember anything, but if I am guilty, I am ready to be punished.” However, there is no objective evidence of his guilt. Neither he nor I was convinced by the investigation that a crime had been committed.
The second point is a huge period. The lawyers analyzed the judicial practice: they don’t give that much under Article 318 of the Criminal Code. None of the policemen were seriously injured. One police officer said that he had a small bruise on his stomach, which he received while wearing a bulletproof vest, but this was not confirmed by anything in court – only his words. In a completely similar criminal case in Stavropol, a drunk man, being in the back seat of a police car, grabbed the driver, hit another policeman in the eye and wounded him. This person was convicted under article 318 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, part 1 and only paid a fine.
My lawyers and I studied Russian judicial practice: over the past 12–20 years, not a single person in Russia has been sentenced to more than 8 years in prison under any part of Article 318 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Individuals who deliberately attacked and stabbed police officers received shorter sentences.
With Trevor in the cell sits a prisoner who was given less for murder. Your popular actor was given 8 years, and everyone shouted that this is a lot, although a man died under the wheels of his car!
– How did your family and friends in America react to the sentence?
– Awful! 150 countries wrote about the Trevor case in the context of a Russian court, because of the political situation, mistreated an American student. In America, famous publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal told about this story. A meeting of Congress dedicated to Trevor took place in Washington. Congressmen and senators studied Russian legislation and came to the conclusion that this is an unfair sentence. Now we are talking about recognizing him as a political prisoner. But we really hope that the appellate instance will sort it out. We didn’t want this to be an international conflict. But so far it turns out that everything looks exactly like this.
I decided for myself that I would not leave Russia until justice prevails. I am a simple person, I am far from politics. I applied to the HRC because I believe in an objective investigation. No matter how the governments of our countries treat each other, ordinary people should not suffer from this.
Our family is very grateful to all the lovely and caring people we met in Moscow. Our peoples have more similarities than differences. Russia is a wonderful country, there are a lot of good people here.
The elderly Texan speaks the last touching words with particular emotion. In general, it is clear that he is still shocked by what happened. Until recently, the son was a successful international student, and became a prisoner in a foreign land. But his statement that only politics intervened in the fate of the guy, nevertheless, I think, is incorrect. Most likely, it was like this: specific police officers wanted to “cut the stick,” and a foreigner who does not know the language and laws is an excellent target. But the court did not delve into the essence.
Errors of the investigation, the harshness of the court – we talk about all this constantly. How many Russians do you think turn to the president about an unfair trial and investigation? Half a million a year!
America, one must think, will not leave its citizen. As we do not leave our own people who have been imprisoned there. But I really don’t want an ordinary criminal case to be an excuse for us to be “rinsed” again in the international environment. Maybe for this it is worth providing for responsibility in relation to specific police officers and judges?