Russia and the United States have exchanged prisoners and secured the release of former US Marine Trevor Reed. Reed was jailed in 2020 on charges of assault stemming from a drunken night in Moscow the year before. Russia’s foreign ministry said he was released after a “lengthy negotiation process” in exchange for Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko, who has been imprisoned for more than a decade in the United States on drug smuggling charges.
Reed’s family issued a statement confirming his release, saying their “prayers have been answered and Trevor is probably on his way back to the United States.”
The White House issued a statement in which President Joe Biden said he had informed the family of Reed’s freedom.
“We welcome Trevor Reed home and celebrate his return to the family who missed him very much,” said Mr. Biden in the statement. “I heard in the voice of Trevor’s parents how much they cared about his health and missed his presence. And I was glad to be able to share the good news about Trevor’s freedom with them.”
Mr. Biden thanked, among other things, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs Roger Carstens and the US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan for their “tireless and dedicated work” in securing Reed’s release. The president said the negotiations “required difficult decisions,” which he “did not take lightly,” and he promised that his administration would continue to work to get another former U.S. Marine.and professional basketball player also out of Russian prisons.
Whelan has been incarcerated since 2018 and served a 16-year sentence on charges of espionage, which the United States and his family say are fabricated. Laughter has been detained in Russia since mid-February on drug charges.
A US official told CBS News chief foreign correspondent and “Face the Nation” presenter Margaret Brennan that the exchange of prisoners on Wednesday was not an indication of a broader diplomatic engagement with Russia in the midst of the conflict over.
The Associated Press said Wednesday’s prisoner exchange was carried out in a European nation, where air tracking services showed a Russian prison plane landing in the Turkish capital Ankara earlier in the day. The AP said the U.S. Bureau of Prisons had updated its website overnight to reflect that Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted of smuggling cocaine to the United States in 2010 and sentenced to 20 years in prison, was no longer behind bars.
Yaroshenko’s lawyer Alexei Tarasov was quoted by the Russian news agency Interfax as saying that his client “was now on his way home.”
Reed was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2020 after being convicted of assaulting two Russian police officers. He always maintained that he could not remember the incident and denied guilt. The U.S. government had raised concerns about the fairness of his trial.
Just two weeks ago a Russian courtagainst his sentence and imprisonment and sent the case down to a lower court. The decision was lamented by US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, who at the time said Reed “remains in jail for a crime he did not commit.”
Reed’s family has expressed serious concerns about his illness, saying they believe he has contracted tuberculosis in prison and that he did not receive proper medical care despite the Russian prison service saying earlier in April that he had been transferred to a prison hospital.
In a statement released on April 11, Reed’s parents said they had managed to “restore indirect contact” with their son after not hearing from him for nearly a week.