Marine from Texas Trevor Reed freed from Russia as part of prisoner exchange

WASHINGTON – Russia and the United States held a dramatic exchange of prisoners on Wednesday, exchanging a veteran Marine who was jailed in Moscow for a convicted Russian drug dealer serving a long prison sentence in the United States, a senior U.S. official has said.

The surprise deal would have been a remarkable diplomatic maneuver even in times of peace, but it was even more unusual because it took place as Russia’s war with Ukraine pushed relations with the United States to the lowest point in decades.

As part of the exchange, Russia released Trevor Reed, a former Texas Marine who was arrested in the summer of 2019 after Russian authorities said he attacked a police officer while being taken by police to a police station after a night of heavy rain. alcohol. Reed was later sentenced to nine years in prison, although his family maintained his innocence and the US government described him as an unjust prisoner.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has issued the following statement regarding Reed’s release.

“I am pleased to announce the release of Trevor Reed, an American citizen who was unjustly detained in Russia. We extend our deepest condolences to the many allies and partners who have helped us in this endeavor. Hostage Affairs Ambassador Carstens, Ambassador John Sullivan, and others in our government who have worked tirelessly to achieve this result. the release of all U.S. nationals illegally detained abroad. “

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The United States has agreed to extradite Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal prison sentence in Connecticut for plotting to smuggle cocaine into the United States after being arrested in Liberia in 2010 and extradited to the United States.

Russia has been seeking his return for years, while also rejecting calls from senior US officials to release Reed, who was approaching his 1,000th day of detention and whose health had recently deteriorated, according to his family.

The two detainees were exchanged in a European country. Although officials did not say where the transfer took place, in the hours before it happened, commercial flight trackers spotted a plane belonging to Russia’s Federal Security Service flying to Ankara, Turkey. The U.S. Bureau of Investigation also updated its website overnight to reflect that Yaroshenko was no longer in custody.

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The prisoner exchange marks the biggest release during the Biden administration of an American who was deemed badly detained abroad and comes even after families of detainees who met with government officials last year described them as cool about the idea of ​​an exchange.

In a statement, the Reed family thanked President Joe Biden “for the decision to bring Trevor home,” as well as other administration officials and Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, about whom the family said that he traveled to Moscow in the previous hours. The war in Ukraine began in the hope of securing Reed’s release.

Reed was one of many Americans known to be detained by Russia, including WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was arrested in February after authorities said a search of her purse revealed a cannabis derivative, and the strain Michigan security guard Paul Whelan, who is being held in Espionage-related charges, says his family is fake. It was not clear what Wednesday action might have to do with their affairs.

Reed’s parents had a rare private meeting with Biden and administration officials last month. They had stood weeks earlier along the route of his motorcade during a presidential visit to Texas in hopes of gaining his attention, and later protested outside the White House to request a meeting.

SEE ALSO: US ready to help Brittney Griner, Secretary of State says

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Marine from Texas Trevor Reed freed from Russia as part of prisoner exchange Source link Marine from Texas Trevor Reed freed from Russia as part of prisoner exchange

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