After nearly a thousand days in a Russian prison, an official exchange carried out Wednesday resulted in a former U.S. Marine returning home to his family in Texas while many other “wrongfully detained Americans” await their own freedom.
The prisoner swap that included American Trevor Reed took place in an undisclosed location in Europe where the former Marine was placed in the custody of U.S. officials in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot. Reed had been serving a nine-year prison sentence for allegedly assaulting a Russian officer after a night of drinking in the summer of 2019 while he had been living there, the Associated Press reported.
President Joe Biden released a statement to honor Reed’s return home wherein he wrote, “Today, we welcome home Trevor Reed and celebrate his return to the family that missed him dearly. A former U.S. Marine, he is now free from Russian detention. I was delighted to be able to share with his family the good news about Trevor’s freedom.”
I’m grateful for the work of many across our government. Trevor’s safe return is a testament to the priority we place on bringing home Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad.
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 27, 2022
“I’m grateful for the work of many across our government,” Biden continued. “Trevor’s safe return is a testament to the priority we place on bringing home Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad.”
A representative for the Reed family published their official statement on Twitter where they noted the relief now afforded to them and the bipartisan group of officials responsible for the release.
🚨@freetrevorreed has been released after 985 days effectively held hostage by the Russian Government.
Those who would like to help defray the costs of Trevor’s ordeal please go to https://t.co/UNgllZ9NCo.
— Jonathan Franks (@jonfranks) April 27, 2022
“For the past 985 days…our family has been living a nightmare. Today, our prayers have been answered and Trevor is safely on his way back to the United States,” the statement said in part before later adding, “While we understand the interest in Trevor’s story – and as soon as he’s ready, he’ll tell his own story, we’d respectfully ask for some privacy while we address the myriad health issues brought on by the squalid conditions he was subjected to in his Russian gulag.”
The AP noted that one of the “myriad health issues” the family addressed was Reed’s contraction of tuberculosis. Meanwhile, notable American figures like WNBA star Brittney Griner and corporate security executive Paul Whelan still remain in Russian custody.
Whelan, who is mentioned by name in the Reed family’s statement, had been arrested in 2018 and convicted of espionage by a Russian court in June 2020 with a sentence of 16 years. Ahead of a meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2021, Whelan, who had been placed in a labor camp he characterized as a “sweatshop,” called for action for him and other American prisoners.
“This is not an issue of Russia against me; it’s an issue of Russia against the United States, and the United States needs to answer this hostage diplomacy situation and resolve it as quickly as possible.”
Yaroshenko had been arrested in 2010 in Liberia on drug smuggling charges. After being extradited to the U.S. he was sentenced to 20 years in a Connecticut federal prison for “conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.”
Today, I granted pardons to three people and commuted the sentences of 75 people.
America is a nation of laws, but we are also a nation of second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation. pic.twitter.com/TolNuKNtQt
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 26, 2022
While Yaroshenko’s sentence had been commuted and Biden had announced a list of 78 people who had received clemency, the Russian pilot was not named among them.
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