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Former Marines Trevor Reed and Konstantin Yaroshenko released on US-Russia prisoner exchange

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President Biden announced that Russia was releasing former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed from detention when Moscow said it was arranging a prisoner exchange to secure the return of pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was jailed on U.S. drug charges.

“Today we welcome home Trevor Reed and celebrate his return to the family who missed him greatly,” Biden said in a statement. “Trevor, a former U.S. Marine, is free of Russian detention.”

Biden did not mention a prisoner exchange in his statement, but said that “the negotiations that enabled us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions, which I do not take lightly.”

Russia’s foreign ministry said in a Telegram post from spokeswoman Maria Zakharova minutes earlier that “as a result of a lengthy negotiation process” Reed was “exchanged with Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison by an American court in 2010.”

The U.S. Prison Bureau’s website listed Yaroshenko as “not inside [BOP] custody.”

Reed’s family confirmed his release in a statement Wednesday, thanking President Biden and saying his actions “may have saved Trevor’s life.”

“Today our prayers have been answered and Trevor is probably on his way back to the United States,” it said.

Reed was sentenced in July 2020 to nine years in prison for endangering the “life and health” of Russian police officers after a drunken night in Moscow the year before. He denied any wrongdoing.

In recent weeks, Reed’s family and U.S. lawmakers have renewed calls for his release as his parents said his health was deteriorating. U.S. lawmakers and diplomats have condemned his verdict, including U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, who described the evidence used to convict Reed as “ridiculous. “

Family of Trevor Reed, Marine Corps veteran jailed in Russia, pushes for release as health declines

Yaroshenko, a former Russian pilot, was serving a 20-year prison sentence in Danbury, Conn., A federal prison for conspiracy to bring drugs into the United States. He was picked up by the Liberian authorities and handed over to DEA officials, who sent him to the United States. His lawyers claimed he had been caught by the DEA.

In 2010, Yaroshenko had met with two men about transporting large shipments of cocaine from South America to Liberia and then on to other destinations, including the United States, according to court documents. They were confidential sources of a lengthy undercover Drug Enforcement Administration operation.

U.S. officials have repeatedly accused Russia of holding Reed, as well as other U.S. citizens, as potential negotiating cards in a swap.

FAQ: Is a Russian-American prisoner exchange possible?

Yaroshenko is on his way to Russia, his lawyer Alexei Tarasov said, according to Russian outlet Interfax. ‘According to my information, he is now on his way home. The exchange took place in a third country, “Tarasov told Interfax.

Reed, who traveled from northern Texas to Moscow to visit his girlfriend in 2019, pleaded not guilty to the charge of using violence to endanger life or health of an official performing his duties. He was convicted in July 2020 and sentenced to prison in a Moscow court in a case that Reed has described as “clearly political.”

Timothy Bella and Michael Birnbaum contributed to this report.

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