A US Marine who has been held in Russian custody since 2019 was released Wednesday in a surprise prisoner swap between the Kremlin and the Biden administration.
The news comes after years of advocacy from his family in Texas and recent reports that his health was quickly deteriorating.
‘Today, we welcome home Trevor Reed and celebrate his return to family that missed him dearly,’ President said in a statement.
‘I heard the voices of Trevor’s parents and how much they’ve worried about his health and missed his presence. And I was delighted to be able to share with them the good news about Trevor’s freedom.’
Reed’s family spoke to media outlets last month about how their son had been in close contact with someone who had tuberculosis, and had possibly broken a rib. When Russian officials denied him medical treatment, Reed began a hunger strike, causing greater concern for the 30-year-old’s parents.
His parents said in a statement that he spent 10 days in a prison hospital but was sent back without being tested for tuberculosis. They said he did not receive any ‘meaningful medical care’ outside of an X-ray, which they said was taken incorrectly.
Reed was arrested in in 2019 after authorities said he assaulted an officer while being driven by police to a police station following a night of heavy drinking. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.
In exchange for Reed’s freedom, Biden commuted the sentence of Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the US.
The prisoner swap is the highest-profile release during the Biden administration of an American said to be wrongly imprisoned abroad and comes at a time of poor relations between the US and Russia amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The exchange took place in Turkey, Reed’s father, Joey Reed, told .
‘The American plane pulled up next to the Russian plane and they walked both prisoners across at the same time, like you see in the movies,’ he said.
Biden, who met in Washington DC with Reed’s parents last month, emphasized that ‘the negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly.’
The Russian foreign ministry called the exchange a result of a ‘long negotiation process.’
‘Today, our prayers have been answered and Trevor is on his way back safely to the United States,’ Reed’s family said in a statement where they also thanked Biden, his administration and Bill Richardson, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, who Reed’s family says traveled to Moscow hours before the Ukraine war began in hopes of securing Reed’s release.
Reed’s parents demonstrated outside the White House last month in hopes of securing a meeting with Biden, who they eventually were able to sit down with.
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