Joe Biden said on Wednesday he would have to make “difficult decisions” to secure the release of ex-US Marine Trevor Reed, who was swapped for a Russian pilot jailed in the US.
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“Trevor, a former US Marine, has been released from prison in Russia,” the US President said in a statement. “The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required tough decisions that I don’t take lightly,” he added.
“His safe return is a testament to the priority my administration places on the repatriation of Americans who are being held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad,” he said.
Russian diplomacy recently announced that Trevor Reed, who was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia for violence, had been swapped for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot jailed in the US for cocaine trafficking, citing “a lengthy negotiation process.” “.
Trevor Reed’s family told CNN they spoke to him on the phone and he said he was “fine,” but seemed “a little overwhelmed.”
“He looked like he was a little shocked,” said his mother, Paula Reed.
His father Joey also said his son was transferred to another prison “this week” and then flown to Turkey.
“Trevor quickly told us that the American plane had positioned itself close to the Russian plane and they got the two prisoners out at the same time like in the movie,” he said.
A US official told reporters on condition of anonymity that Trevor Reed was en route to the United States.
“We welcome this important release while calling for the release of wrongfully imprisoned American citizen Paul Whelan,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, referring to the man convicted in Moscow of espionage.
Paul Whelan’s family were quick to welcome Trevor Reed’s release and said they were “filled with joy” for his loved ones.
But “Paul remains hostage” in Russia, his brother David said in a statement.
“Our parents are getting old. We still hope Paul comes home so they can see him one more time. But every day that hope is fading,” he added.
Trevor Reed was sentenced to nine years in prison in July 2020 for drunkenly assaulting two police officers who were being called to the scene of a party in Moscow in August 2019.
He had denied the aggression and denounced a “political” affair amid Russian-American tensions.
Konstantin Yaroshenko was arrested by US intelligence agents in Liberia in 2010. Charged with drug trafficking, he was taken to the United States, where the judiciary sentenced him to 20 years in prison.