DALLAS (AP) – Trevor Reeds nearly three years in prison in Russia ended Wednesday when he boarded a Russian plane and boarded a US plane.
The release of the Marine veteran was half of an unexpected US-Russian prisoner exchange that came despite high tensions between the two countries. It saw the United States turn over a convicted Russian drug smuggler for the 30-year-old Texan, who has maintained his innocence after being convicted of it, a U.S. official dismissed as “ridiculous” evidence.
A look at who Reed is, why he was imprisoned, and what will happen now that he has been released.
WHO IS TREVOR REED?
Reed was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in the mountains of Southern California, where he enjoyed fishing and participating in Boy Scouts, according to his family.
After graduating from high school there, he returned to Texas to study, but traveled before completing his degree to join the U.S. Marine Corps. He was based at Camp Pendleton, California at one point, was deployed to the Middle East, and also served on the presidential guard and provided security at Camp David when Barack Obama was president.
He was photographed in uniform with Obama before being honorably discharged.
In 2017, Reed returned to college at the University of North Texas at Dallas, where he studied international relations and Russia – his girlfriend’s native language. Two years later, he traveled to Moscow for a summer to learn the language and visit her family.
Reed would not leave the country for years.
WHY WAS REED PRISONED?
A week before he was to return home, Reed attended a party where his family says he was encouraged to drink a large amount of vodka. He became nauseous while sharing a ride home, got out of the car and started running around a busy street, prompting police to call.
Reed was accused of assaulting the officers who picked him up. Russian authorities claimed that he grabbed the arm of the officer who was driving him to a police station, causing the officer to turn into another lane, and that he elbowed another officer who was trying to intervene. The then 28-year-old was jailed in Moscow for almost a year before being put on trial in 2020.
Russian investigators did not provide Reed’s defense team with video recorded inside the police car, and his parents expressed other concerns about the case, referring to what they said, evidence and conflicting reports from the officers were lacking. After Reed was sentenced to nine years in prison, the U.S. ambassador visited him behind bars.
“He has been detained and convicted for evidence that is ridiculous,” U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan said in 2020.
HOW REED’S FAMILY CAMPAIGNED FOR HIS PUBLICATION
For years before Reed was released, his situation did not look hopeful. He fell ill in prison and geopolitics threatened.
With Russia’s war on Ukraine well underway, Reed’s parents told the Associated Press in March that they were concerned that the military conflict would complicate any effort to bring their son home by potentially closing communication channels.
“We are concerned that these channels are closing and we just want to make sure that they do not all close and that hopefully there are more channels on more issues,” Joey Reed said.
The Reeds had pressured Biden administration officials to think creatively, for example by supporting a prey like the one that happened on Wednesday, even though they said the reaction had been cool.
The complicated case was Reed’s own declining health in prison. He coughed up blood and went on a hunger strike at one point.
“If this gets long and drawn out and they take over Ukraine, then the Western countries and the United States will be on edge with Russia for a long time,” Joey Reed said in the March interview. “It could lead to further charges against our son if he lives, and keep him there indefinitely, which is not uncommon in Russia.”
Last month, Reeds tried to connect with President Joe Biden, who was standing along the motorway route during a presidential visit to Texas. As it did not result in a meaningful face-to-face interaction, they demonstrated outside the White House to seek a meeting with the president.
At the end of March, they got the meeting, and less than a month later, their son was on his way home.
Trevor’s parents said they had spent Tuesday cleaning his room in anticipation of his return, ensuring his bed had been cleared of paperwork and other clutter so he had a place to sleep.
His health is an immediate concern – both Reeds were uneasy about his unstable gait and how thin he looked when TV footage caught him walking, flanked by guards, from a van to the jet.
In addition, however, they said they expected him to return to school – he had asked to be sent university books while in prison – to complete an education and pursue a career with the federal government.
His parents expect Reed to have time for leisure as well. Assuming he gets a driver ‘s license that expired while he was away, he should be able to drive around in his Jeep Wrangler with the top down, Joey Reed said, and to do the things that locals take for granted: visit a nearby wildlife. park and watch the Texas Rangers play baseball.
Joey said he and his son are also excited about the upcoming “Top Gun” sequel.
“I was still in Russia when they were going to come out,” he said, referring to the time he spent visiting his son, “and then they delayed it. And I said, ‘Trevor, they’re delaying this movie until you come out. ‘ And that is exactly what has happened. “
Tucker reported from Washington.