US national Trevor Reed, sentenced to nine years’ jail in Russia in 2020, has been exchanged for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who had been serving a 20-year sentence in a US prison since 2010, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday.
Russian diplomats told journalists that the swap was the result of a “lengthy negotiation process.”
Yaroshenko’s wife Viktoria told Izvestia news outlet that her husband had been handed over to Russian officials in Turkey. She added that the freed inmate was now in Sochi, a Russian coastal city on the Black sea.
Meanwhile, Reed was escorted to Vnukovo airport near Moscow and flew back to the US from there, according to Russia’s Rossiya 24 news channel.
US President Joe Biden said that the “negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions” which he does “not take lightly.” In a White House statement released on Wednesday he also stressed that the administration would continue its efforts to bring home other American nationals imprisoned in Russia.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that Washington was grateful to its “partners for their cooperation,” which helped the swap to take place.
The 30-year-old American national, who previously served in the US Marine Corps, was detained on August 16, 2019 in Moscow for drunk and disorderly behavior in a public place. According to Russian authorities, Reed resisted arrest and assaulted two officers while in a police car.
On July 30, 2020, a court in Moscow found the US national guilty of endangering the “life and health” of law enforcement personnel, and sentenced him to nine years behind bars.
Reed professed his innocence throughout the trial, and during his time in prison insisted that he had no recollection of the events of that day as he was drunk at the time. While in prison, the former US marine allegedly went on a hunger strike twice and claimed he had sustained injuries while incarcerated.
His parents, who met with US President Joe Biden in late March, claimed Reed had contracted tuberculosis while in Russian prison. Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service, however, denied he had contracted TB, describing his health as “satisfactory”.
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