Russia has released former Marine Trevor Reed in a prisoner exchange with the U.S., his family and officials stated Wednesday.
" Today, our prayers have actually been responded to and Trevor is safely on his way back to the United States," Joey, Paula, and Taylor Reed said in a declaration.
They added Reed will "tell his own story" when he is ready before requesting personal privacy to deal with "the myriad of health concerns brought on by the squalid conditions he underwent in his Russian gulag.".
The remarkable exchange in between Russia and the U.S. unfolded Wednesday, trading Reed, who was jailed in Moscow, for founded guilty Russian drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2010.
The swap occurred "as a result of a long negotiation procedure," Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated on her verified Telegram channel.
The surprise deal would have been a significant diplomatic maneuver even in times of peace, however it was even more remarkable because it was done as Russia's war with Ukraine has driven relations with the U.S. to their floor in years.
" Today, we invite home Trevor Reed and commemorate his return to the family that missed him a lot," President Joe Biden said in a statement Wednesday morning.
Biden noted it wasn't a simple effort to bring Reed home.
" The settlements that enabled us to bring Trevor home needed tough decisions that I do not ignore," he said. "His safe return is a testimony to the priority my Administration places on bringing home Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad.".
Biden applauded the work of Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens and U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation John Sullivan for their work in helping Reed return.
Reed was detained in the summer of 2019 after Russian authorities stated he assaulted an officer while being driven to a police station following a night of heavy drinking. Reed was later sentenced to 9 years in prison, though his family has actually kept his innocence and the U.S. government has described him as unjustly detained.
Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot, was apprehended in Liberia in 2010 and extradited to the U.S. before he was ultimately sentenced for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine.
Russia had actually sought his return for several years while also declining entreaties by high-level U.S. authorities to release Reed, who was nearing his 1,000 th day in custody and whose health had actually just recently been getting worse, according to his family.
The two detainees were switched in a European country. Authorities did not say where the transfer occurred. However, hours before the swap, commercial flight trackers determined a plane coming from Russia's federal security service as flying to Ankara, Turkey.The Federal Bureau of Prisons also upgraded its site overnight to reflect that Yaroshenko was no longer in custody.
The prisoner swap marks the highest-profile release during the Biden administration of an American deemed wrongfully detained abroad and comes even as families of detainees who have actually met over the last year with administration officials had actually explained them as cool to the idea of an exchange.
In their statement, the Reed family thanked President Joe Biden "for making the decision to bring Trevor home" in addition to other administration authorities and Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations whom the family said traveled to Moscow in the hours before the Ukraine war began in hopes of protecting Reed's release.
Reed was one of numerous Americans understood to be held by Russia, including WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was apprehended in February after authorities stated a search of her bag exposed a marijuana derivative, and Michigan business security executive Paul Whelan, who is being held on espionage-related charges his family says are phony. It was uncertain what if any impact Wednesday's action may have on their cases.
In Biden's statement, he discussed the ongoing effort to bring Whelan home.
" We won't stop until Paul Whelan and others join Trevor in the caring arms of friends and family," he stated.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken likewise applauded Reed's release, maintaining he was "wrongfully apprehended in Russia.".
" We welcome this crucial release, while continuing to call for the release of wrongfully apprehended U.S. person Paul Whelan," Blinken said. "We also stay dedicated to protecting the liberty of all U.S. nationals wrongfully apprehended abroad.".
Reed's moms and dads scored a rare private meeting with Biden and administration officials last month.
Joey and Paula Reed said on MSNBC that they floated the idea of a detainee exchange to bring Reed home during a meeting with Biden on March 31.
"( Biden) doesn't want to get our hopes up. But he did," Joey Reed said to host Hallie Jackson after their conference. "The fact that he listened to us, and that needs to have influenced him, and we're hoping that'll be to bring our child and the other Americans home.".
Reed has actually always maintained his innocence in his jail time, refusing to admit guilt during closing arguments of his Russian trial in 2020.
" I think it would be dishonest and unethical to plead guilty to a criminal offense I didn't commit," he stated on the eve of the trial's decision. "If I am going to be provided a jail sentence, I 'd rather remain in jail than walk totally free tomorrow a liar and a coward.".