Ex-U.S. Marine's parents urge Biden to push for jailed son's freedom at Putin talks

FILE PHOTO: U.S. ex-Marine Trevor Reed, who was detained in 2019 and accused of assaulting police officers, stands inside a defendants' cage during a court hearing in Moscow, Russia March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The parents of Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine held in a Russian jail, urged President Joe Biden on Monday to raise their son's case with Russian President Vladimir Putin at virtual talks to push for his freedom.

Biden and Putin are due to speak by video conference on Tuesday with Ukraine certain to dominate the agenda as a Russian troop buildup has fuelled concerns of a possible attack. Moscow denies any such plan.

Ahead of the talks, Reed's parents Joey and Paula said they feared a major escalation over Ukraine could deal a setback to their 30-year-old son's chances of getting released.

"We need president Biden to do whatever it takes to bring our son home before it's too late. We don't want Trevor ... left behind," they said in a statement to Reuters.

Reed, from Texas, was sentenced to nine years in jail last year after being found guilty of endangering the lives of two policemen in Moscow while drunk on a visit in 2019. He denied the charges and the United States called his trial a "theatre of the absurd".

He and Paul Whelan, an American jailed in Russia on spying charges he denied, have been touted as possible candidates for a prisoner swap with the United States.

Russian media have touted Konstantin Yaroshenko, a pilot serving 20 years for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine, and Viktor Bout, a Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year prison sentence, as possible candidates for a swap.

"He (Reed) needs his president to bring him and Paul Whelan home and he needs elected officials to support the president in doing what it takes to make that happen," the statement from the parents said.

Reed and Whelan are on a long list of contentious issues between Putin and Biden.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Alison Williams)

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