MOSCOW (Reuters) – Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who is serving a nine-year jail sentence in Russia, has started a hunger strike to protest against his incarceration and violations of his rights, his family said. 

Reed was convicted last year on charges of endangering the lives of two policemen in Moscow while drunk, a charge he denied. He said the ruling was clearly political, and Washington called his trial a "theatre of the absurd". 

"We have received a report from an attorney that Trevor has begun a hunger strike to protest his arbitrary detention and Russian authorities' numerous and flagrant violations of his basic human rights and his rights under Russian law," the family said in a statement late on Monday. 

There was no immediate comment about the hunger strike from the prison holding him. The U.S. embassy in Moscow did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Reed's family did not say how long he planned to keep the hunger strike up, but urged U.S. authorities to support him, noting comments by Washington during a hunger strike by jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny earlier this year. 

"We recall the strong response from this Administration when a Russian dissident went on hunger strike several months ago and look forward to our son receiving the same attention," the family said. 

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