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Russia releases Trevor Reed as part of prisoner exchange


Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was detained in 2019 and accused of assaulting police officers, stands inside a defendants’ cage during a court hearing in Moscow, Russia March 11, 2020.

Tatyana Makeyeva | Reuters

WASHINGTON — Russia agreed to release former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed in a prisoner exchange with the United States on Wednesday, a dramatic revelation amid the backdrop of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

Reed was accused of assaulting a Russian officer and detained by authorities there in 2019. He was later sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. Reed and his family have maintained his innocence and the U.S. government has described him as unjustly imprisoned.

A senior Biden administration official described the monthslong efforts of seeking Reed’s release as “discrete diplomacy.”

“I want to be very clear this is a discrete issue on which we were able to make an arrangement with the Russians, it represents no change, zero, to our approach to the appalling violence in Ukraine,” explained the official, who declined to be named in order to share additional details of the negotiations.

“The discussions that led to today’s very good news were strictly limited to these topics and are not part of broader diplomatic discussions and they were not the beginnings of discussions on other issues,” added the official on a call with reporters.

For Reed’s release, President Joe Biden agreed to free Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

Another senior Biden administration official confirmed Yaroshenko was in Russian custody but declined to provide additional details on the logistics of the transfer.

“Today, our prayers have been answered and Trevor is safely on his way back to the United States,” the Reed family wrote in a statement.

“While we understand the interest in Trevor’s story – and as soon as he’s ready, he’ll tell his own story, we’d respectfully ask for some privacy while we address the myriad of health issues brought on by the squalid conditions he was subjected to in his Russian gulag,” the family added.

Joey Reed and Paula Reed, the parents of Trevor Reed, a U.S. Marine who is currently being detained in a Russian prison, demonstrate in Lafayette Park near the White House on March 30, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images

The family thanked President Joe Biden for bringing the former U.S. Marine home and credited him with potentially saving Reed’s life. The family also said they would continue to advocate on behalf of Paul Whelan, another U.S. Marine who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia.

Biden, who did not specifically mention the prisoner exchange in a statement, said his administration would not “stop until Paul Whelan and others join Trevor in the loving arms of family and friends.”

The president spoke with the Reed family twice last month on the release of their son.

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