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Trevor Reed, former Marine from Texas, freed from Russia in prisoner swap

Trevor Reed.JPG
Tatyana Makeyeva
Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed during a 2020 court hearing in Moscow.

Reed traveled to Russia in the summer of 2019 with his Russian girlfriend to learn the language. That August, Russian police arrested him for intoxication and took him to a jail to sober up.

Trevor Reed, a former Marine from Texas who has been detained in Russia for more than two years, was freed in a prisoner swap, President Joe Biden announced Wednesday morning.

"The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly. His safe return is a testament to the priority my Administration places on bringing home Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad," Biden said in a statement.

Reed traveled to Russia in the summer of 2019 with his Russian girlfriend to learn the language. That August, Russian police arrested him for intoxication and took him to a jail to sober up. He faced a nine-year sentence in prison.

In exchange for Reed's freedom, Americans released Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a lengthy sentence in the United States on cocaine-trafficking charges, according to The New York Times.

For decades, the U.S. government has periodically engaged in the diplomatic dance of prisoner exchanges with Russia and the former Soviet Union. But with Russia's continued invasion of Ukraine, this swap comes at the most fraught moment between the two countries since the Cold War.

Texas Republicans have been fiercely critical of Biden for not engaging more with the Reed family. But on Wednesday, the state’s senior senator praised Biden.

“Trevor has survived a real-life nightmare, held in a Russian prison for nearly 1000 days with little to no access to badly-needed health care or communication with his family,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said in a statement. “I’m beyond relieved Trevor will return home to his family in Texas, who were relentless in the fight to secure his release and never gave up hope.

“I applaud the President and the State Department officials who worked behind the scenes to secure Trevor’s release, as well as Congressmen [August] Pfluger and [Mike] McCaul for their efforts to keep pressure on the Administration,” he added.

U.S. Rep. August Pfluger of San Angelo, who represents the Reed family, and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on foreign affairs issues, were at the center of the diplomatic fight to bring Reed home.

“My constituent Trevor Reed has been released from Russian prison after being held for an anguishing 985 days as a political pawn," Pfluger said Wednesday. "Trevor’s parents, Paula and Joey Reed, have been tireless advocates for their son's release. I cannot imagine their relief.”

Biden made no mention Wednesday of another recently arrested Texan, WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is still detained in Russia on charges of possession of hashish oil in her luggage. He did mention in his statement another American detained in Russia.

"We won’t stop until Paul Whelan and others join Trevor in the loving arms of family and friends," he added.

Whelan is from Michigan and was arrested in Russia in 2018, accused of spying and sentenced to 17 years. Whelan is also a former Marine; however, he was discharged for bad conduct after being convicted of larceny. He and his family have said he’s not a spy but a tourist who was set up by the government.

Abby Livingston joined the Tribune in 2014 as the publication's first Washington Bureau Chief. Previously, she covered political campaigns, House leadership and Congress for Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper. A seventh-generation Texan, Abby graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. She grew up in Fort Worth and has appeared in an episode of "The Bold and The Beautiful." Abby pitched and produced political segments for CNN and worked as an editor for The Hotline, National Journal’s campaign tipsheet. Abby began her journalism career as a desk assistant at NBC News in Washington, working her way up to the political unit, where she researched stories for Nightly News, the Today Show and Meet the Press. In keeping with the Trib’s great history of hiring softball stars, Abby is a three-time MVP (the most in game history —Ed.) for The Bad News Babes, the women’s press softball team that takes on female members of Congress in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball breast cancer charity game.