American ex-Marine Trevor Reed released from Russian prison in swap

·3 min read

Almost two years after he was sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, former Marine Trevor Reed was released Wednesday in a prisoner swap.

“Our family has been living a nightmare. Today, our prayers have been answered and Trevor is on his way back safely to the United States,” Reed’s family said in a statement.

Reed, a 30-year-old Texas native, was arrested in 2019 for allegedly assaulting a police officer after getting drunk at a party while visiting his girlfriend in Moscow. He was convicted of intentionally endangering the lives and health of the police officers and sentenced in July 2020.

But Reed and his family have denied any wrongdoing and the former Marine had reportedly been in failing health behind bars as he approached his 1,000th day in custody. Last month, a spokesperson for the family said Reed had caught tuberculosis and suffered a broken rib after “something fell” on him. When his captors refused to get him medical care, Reed went on a hunger strike, breaking it in early April after finally being transferred for treatment.

“Today, we welcome home Trevor Reed and celebrate his return to the family that missed him dearly,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “Trevor, a former U.S. Marine, is free from Russian detention. I heard in the voices of Trevor’s parents how much they’ve worried about his health and missed his presence. And I was delighted to be able to share with them the good news about Trevor’s freedom.”

In exchange, the U.S. has freed Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal prison sentence in Connecticut for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S, according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry. The White House has not confirmed Yaroshenko’s release but the Bureau of Prisons website has him listed as “not in custody.”

“The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly,” Biden said.

“His safe return is a testament to the priority my Administration places on bringing home Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad. We won’t stop until Paul Whelan and others join Trevor in the loving arms of family and friends.”

Last month, Reed’s parents, Joey and Paula Reed, protested outside the White House until Biden finally met with them.

“During their meeting, the president reiterated his commitment to continue to work to secure the release of Trevor, Paul Whelan and other Americans wrongfully held in Russia and elsewhere, and to provide all possible assistance until they and others are free and returned home to their families who are advocating so passionately for their release,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement at the time.

Whelan, a Canadian-born American resident and former Marine and police officer, was handed a 16-year prison sentence with the possibility of time in a labor camp in 2020 after being convicted of spying. WNBA star Brittney Griner also remains behind bars in Russia after hashish oil was allegedly found in her luggage at a Moscow airport.