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US releases convicted drug trafficker to Russia in swap for jailed marine

U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed was freed from prison in Moscow on Wednesday when the U.S. exchanged a convicted Russian drug trafficker for his freedom.

The New York Post reported that in a prepared statement, President Joe Biden said, “Today we welcome home Trevor Reed and celebrate his return to the family that missed him dearly. Trevor, a former U.S. Marine, is free from Russian detention.”

Biden shared his intention to free Reed with his parents, Joey and Paula, saying that he “heard in the voices of Trevor’s parents how much they’ve worried about his health and missed his presence.”

Biden said, “I’m grateful for the tireless and dedicated work of Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation John Sullivan, and many others across our government to ensure that Trevor came home safely.”

He added, “The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly.”

Reed had been imprisoned in Russia since 2019. He was serving a nine-year sentence on charges stemming from an incident where he assaulted two Moscow police offers who were driving him to a police station the night after a party, at which he reportedly got blackout drunk.

A senior U.S. official and Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed that Reed’s release was negotiated as part of a collaborative prisoner exchange. The U.S. received Reed in exchange for giving Russia Konstantin Yaroshenko, a convicted Russian drug trafficker who was serving a 20-year prison sentence in Connecticut.

The swap is reported to have taken place in an unidentified European country, but a plane belonging to the Russian federal security service was seen flying to Ankara, Turkey, just hours before the exchange occurred.

In recent weeks, Reed’s parents had grown increasingly concerned over their son’s health, as he had begun a hunger strike to protest his treatment by Russian officials.

Reed’s father said, “Trevor had some injury where he thinks he might have broken a rib. Plus, he has all the symptoms of active tuberculosis. He went to a prison hospital for about 10 days, and they didn’t treat him.”

His father said that his son requested to remain in the hospital but was instead placed in solitary confinement, where he began to cough up blood and had “something protruding out of his side.”

The Reed family thanked Biden “for making the decision to bring Trevor home.”