By Tom Balmforth
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A former U.S. Marine serving a nine-year jail sentence in Russia has ended a hunger strike after nearly a week, lost a lot of weight and is ill, according to a message he sent his family.
Trevor Reed, a university student from Texas, was convicted last year of endangering the lives of two policemen in Moscow while drunk on a visit in 2019. He denies the charges and the United States called his trial a "theatre of the absurd".
His family said last week he had begun a hunger strike in protest at his incarceration and alleged violations of his rights. The prison service denied he was refusing food or that his rights were being abused.
In Nov. 15 comments shared by his family, Reed said he ended the strike on the morning of Nov. 9, having refused food and drunk only water since the evening of Nov. 3.
"They (prison staff) were ALL aware of my hunger strike. They asked me on video every day if I wanted food and I refused. They did not weigh me or give me a medical inspection," he said.
In a statement to Reuters, the prison service in Mordovia region where Reed is in jail again denied he had stopped eating or that he had told them he had started a hunger strike.
Reed said he had a cough, headache, congestion, mucus in his lungs and back pain, and that a doctor had given him vitamins.
He said he was due to be moved from his cell to a punishment cell but did not say why.
A family spokesman said: "Trevor's new complaints about his health are alarming and it's quite clear Russian authorities aren't taking them seriously. The Reeds continue to urge the (U.S.) Administration to make a deal to bring their son home."
Reed and Paul Whelan, an American jailed in Russia on spying charges he denied, have been touted as possible candidates for a prisoner swap.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth, Editing by Peter Graff and Timothy Heritage)