(Video Credit: CNN)
Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed gave an interview to CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday recounting his nightmarish three-year incarceration in a horrific Russian prison cell that was smeared with blood and feces and was populated by insane serial killers and rapists.
Reed oddly survived by not having hope that he would ever escape. He expected to die in that hellish cell after being imprisoned in 2019 on reportedly trumped-up charges claiming that he got into a drunken brawl at a party he attended with his Russian girlfriend of three years, Alina Tsybulnik, who is a lawyer. He was sentenced to nine years in prison for assaulting and endangering two police officers’ lives. Reed claims he never attacked the officers.
The interview was Reed’s first since being released on April 27. The Marine describes Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government as “sincerely evil from top to bottom.”
“You have this view – kind of like I did when I went there – that Russia, yeah, they have a bad government, but it’s like, you know, maybe Putin is evil but like the whole government isn’t,” Reed stated during the CNN interview.
“And from being there inside, and seeing that government from the inside, how that works, you realize that the problem is actually much bigger than that,” he continued.
“They have absolutely no value of human life, and that apathy permeates every level of the Russian government and that trickles down from the very top to the lowest level prison guard inside of their government and all of their police officers, all of their FSB, everyone who works for that government has absolutely no empathy for other humans. They are completely desensitized to that,” Reed contended.
“That government is really sincerely evil at all levels from the top to the bottom, and there is absolutely no reason why any Americans should travel to Russia for anything, everything,” he charged.
(Video Credit: CNN)
Reed was freed in a prisoner swap for Russian drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko and he has since broken up with his girlfriend.
🚨@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
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
“Countries like North Korea, Russia now, China, Syria, Iran, Venezuela – countries like that are going to take Americans hostage, no matter what,” he asserted. “It is our duty to get back Americans.”
Reed is now focusing on freeing another U.S. Marine being held in Russia, Paul Whelan.
To all of our fellow hostage/detainee families:
Keep up the fight,
Be loud yet respectful if you can,
Spread the word about these Americans,
There is strength in numbers,
We love you all and we continue to fight for you! pic.twitter.com/EcqDN5vNNb
— Free Trevor Reed (@freetrevorreed) May 23, 2022
Whelan was detained at a Moscow hotel in December 2018 and was subsequently arrested on espionage charges which he vigorously denies. He was convicted in June 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison in a sham of a trial.
“I thought Paul was leaving with me,” Reed noted. “The fact is that the United States should have got him out. And we have to get him out, at any cost.”
Reed then returned to the subject of his confinement and recounted meeting with his Russian girlfriend after they met online, “She would come to the U.S. And visit me.”
“I actually went to Russia once to see her and meet her family. I did not know Russian at all, and that’s one of the reasons why I decided to start studying Russian was to be able to communicate with her family,” he explained.
After the party that he attended with his girlfriend where he got drunk on vodka and then blacked out, Russian police took him to their station to ostensibly dry out.
“I don’t remember anything until the next morning,” Reed recalled. “I woke up in a police station. I was in a cell, and I asked the duty officer there like what happened? And she said you drink too much. It’s Russian vodka. We’ll teach you how to drink later, and she said so you can leave.”
He called his girlfriend to come and get him and then was told that there had been a mistake. Tsybulnik reportedly asked what Reed was being charged with and demanded to see the footage showing the Marine attacking the police inside the prison. The police then changed their story and claimed he attacked them by the side of the road when he was picked up. Surveillance footage would allegedly go on to show that allegation was untrue.
Reed’s attorney then told him the FSB (Russian intelligence) had become involved and his case had dramatically escalated.
The cell that the Marine was kept in had blood and feces smeared on the walls. Prisoners had reportedly killed themselves and others while imprisoned there. Reed says that over half of the prisoners he was kept with were serial killers and rapists.
TONIGHT: Here's a new interview with Trevor Reed by ABC News. We'll share part of it tonight at 10 on @WFAA. Then tune in to @GMA tomorrow morning for more. @txmommypaula @trevorrowdyreed @freetrevorreed https://t.co/qcf4e2YI59
— Teresa Woodard (@twoodard8) May 23, 2022
“The psychiatric treatment facility, I was in there with seven other prisoners in a cell. They all had severe, psychological health issues,” he told Tapper. “Over 50 percent of them in that cell were in there for murder. Or, like, multiple murders, sexual assault, and murder – just really disturbed individuals.”
There were times Reed feared to sleep because he believed it was possible his cellmates would kill him. His health deteriorated significantly while he was imprisoned and he lost 45 pounds while he was there.
“I did not sleep there for a couple of days,” he said. “I was … too worried about who was in the cell with me to actually sleep.”
“The scarier part is you being under this threat of them just chemically disabling you,” he declared. “My whole goal there was to fight and resist that whole time, but if someone uses chemicals to disable you, how can you fight? That was the scariest part, being helpless.”
“The toilet’s just a hole in the floor. And there’s, you know, crap everywhere, all over the floor, on the walls. There’s people in there also that walk around that look like zombies,” Reed told Tapper.
He claims he was sent to a psychiatric facility as punishment for trying to appeal his conviction. He was put into solitary confinement as well.
“The longer that I was in there, the more dedicated I was to not allowing them to break me, and that was really one of the main things that I held on to that got me through that was knowing that no matter how long I was going to be there, they were never going to break me,” Reed remarked. “Maybe I would have died, but psychologically they never would have broken me.”
The guards took away his books which led to Reed going on his first hunger strike.
“After the first hunger strike that I did, I started to get sick. I really at that point was consistently sick until I left. I started to cough up blood, and I coughed up that blood for a period of about three and a half months every day, multiple times a day and they just refused to send me to the hospital which is the reason why I went on the second hunger strike so that they would get me medical attention,” he commented.
Reed said he survived by “compartmentalizing.”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 21, 2022
“I tried to kind of compartmentalize and focus not on [the fact] that I’m being imprisoned, kind of distract myself: think about future plans, what university I was going to go to, what plans I was going to have with my family,” he recalled.
“All of those things to just distract myself from reality, which, you know, is not something you want to think about,” he said.
Even though he thought about his “future plans,” Reed didn’t allow himself to have any hope at the time.
“Not a lot of people are going to like what I’m about to say about this,” he told Tapper. “But I kind of viewed [other prisoners] having hope as a weakness. I did not want me to have that hope of me being released somehow and have that taken from me. I wouldn’t let myself hope.”
In March, Reed told his parents he’d been exposed to tuberculosis and was coughing up blood a number of times a day, had pain in his lung, and a broken rib. He did not get the medical treatment he needed.
“That, I think, contributed to really ratcheting up the conversations on this issue, getting to a point where we were able to make this arrangement, getting to a point where we were able to turn to some of the logistics of simply getting it done,” he concluded.
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