A Russian court sentenced a U.S. student to nine years in jail on Thursday after finding him guilty of endangering the lives of two police officers who detained him after a party in Moscow.
Trevor Reed, a student at the University of North Texas and a former U.S. Marine, said he could not remember the events of last summer because he was drunk when he was detained.
After hearing evidence in his trial, he denied the charge.
His conviction adds a new irritant to already bad relations between Russia and the United States.
Russia last month convicted U.S. citizen Paul Whelan of espionage, despite his protestations of innocence, and sentenced him to 16 years in jail. U.S. investor Michael Calvey is being held under house arrest on fraud charges he denies.
Prosecutors accused Reed of grabbing a police officer who was behind the wheel of a car after he was detained on Aug. 15. That, they said, caused the vehicle to swerve dangerously. He was also accused of elbowing a second officer.
Reed’s defence called the charge against him fraudulent.
His legal team said he should not have been detained in the first place and that the officers had changed their testimony throughout the trial.
Reed travelled to Moscow in May last year to learn Russian and see his Russian girlfriend.
Thursday’s sentence fell just short of the nine years and 8 month jail term requested by state prosecutors.