As relations between the U.S. and Russia continue to crater, President Joe Biden spoke over the phone with the family of Trevor Reed, a former Marine imprisoned in Russia.

Biden traveled to Texas on Tuesday after announcing the U.S. ban on the import of Russian oil over President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine. During Biden's visit, Joey and Paula Reed, Trevor's parents, waited along the road near Fort Worth to catch a glimpse of Biden's motorcade as it passed, holding up a sign about their son.

Soon after, Biden phoned the parents to express his regret for being unable to bring Trevor home and reiterate his commitment to securing his release.

“He was just very, very apologetic that he couldn’t meet with us,” Paula Reed said after the call, according to CNN.

Trevor Reed, a former Marine and a student in Russian at the University of North Texas, traveled to Russia in 2019 along with his girlfriend. On Aug. 15, 2019, Reed got intoxicated at a party with his girlfriend and other friends and ran off along a busy boulevard in Moscow.

His friends called the police and they took him to a police station instead of a medical facility. However, the circumstances took a turn for the worst when Trevor was charged with assaulting the police officers. He was put on trial on March 11, 2020, and found guilty of the charge in July.

Trevor’s case quickly gained the attention of U.S. authorities with the Ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, describing his trial as the “theater of the absurd.” But in a legal system that boasts an acquittal rate of less than 1%, Trevor has been left with little legal recourse.

Police officers escort US ex-marine Trevor Reed, charged with attacking police, into a courtroom prior to a hearing in Moscow on March 11, 2020
Police officers escort US ex-marine Trevor Reed, charged with attacking police, into a courtroom prior to a hearing in Moscow on March 11, 2020 AFP / Alexander NEMENOV

The Reed family has publicly implored Biden to do something to secure their son’s release, especially since they say he is in increasingly poor health. On Feb. 17, they described him as “coughing up blood” after being exposed to another prisoner with tuberculosis and that he is not receiving adequate medical care.

The Reeds have been insistent in their appeals to the Biden administration to help bring their son home. According to the parents, Reed served on then-Vice President Biden’s security detail as a Marine at Camp David. Ahead of Biden’s first summit with Putin in Geneva in June 2021, the Reed family made a public appeal to the president to seek Trevor’s release.

“He's being held as a pawn to try and leverage concessions in a political dispute between our two countries in which he has no part, and it's time to let him come home to Texas,” his parents wrote in a statement.

After his meeting with Putin, Biden confirmed that he brought up Trevor’s case at the summit. The president and his aides did not provide details about any specific steps to free Trevor, but a family spokesperson said they were “very pleased” Biden referred to him by name directly with Putin.

On Russia’s part, there has been little doubt cast on what they see as the legitimacy of their case. In an interview last June ahead of his first meeting with Biden, Putin touched on Reed’s case with NBC News’ Keir Simmons.

"Your guy— the Marine— he's just a drunk and a troublemaker," Putin remarked derisively when asked why he wouldn't release him as a goodwill gesture. "Among other things, he hit a cop. It's nothing. It's just a common crime. There is nothing to it."