Washington, Apr 27 (EFE).- A US Marine veteran held in Russia since 2019 on charges of assaulting police is on his way back to the United States in exchange for a Russian pilot accused of drug smuggling, President Joe Biden said Wednesday.
“Today, we welcome home Trevor Reed and celebrate his return to the family that missed him dearly,” Biden said in a statement.
“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,” the president said.
To secure the release of Reed, Washington agreed to hand over Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was arrested in Liberia in 2010 in a US Drug Enforcement Administration sting operation.
Reed, now 30, traveled to Moscow in May 2019 on a tourist visa and was living in his girlfriend’s apartment at the time of an alleged drunken altercation with police.
A court in Russia convicted him of endangering the lives of police officers after a trial that US officials described as a “theater of the absurd.”
“Today, our prayers have been answered and Trevor is on his way back safely to the United States,” Reed’s family said in a statement.
Reed mounted two hunger strikes during his time behind bars to protest a lack of adequate medical care.
“We welcome this important release, while continuing to call for the release of wrongfully detained US citizen Paul Whelan,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, referring to an American man being held in Russia on accusations of espionage.
The Biden administration said that the discussions leading to the prisoner swap did not touch on any of the other issues of contention between Washington and Moscow arising from the ongoing Russian military campaign in Ukraine, which began Feb. 24. EFE afs/dr