Trevor Reed is the U.S. Marine veteran who was released from prison in Russia today, April 27, 2022, in a prisoner swap. Reed had been arrested on charges of assaulting a police officer, but the U.S. government considered him to be a hostage and his parents launched a campaign pleading for his release.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Reed was “wrongfully detained” and called for the release of additional U.S. citizens detained abroad, including Paul Whelan.
Reed, 30, was released in exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted of drug trafficking, according to NPR.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Reed Was in Moscow to Learn Russian & Visit His Girlfriend & He Was Detained for 985 Days
Reed was arrested in August 2019 following a party at which his parents said he became “severely intoxicated or drugged,” according to their statement on GoFundMe. He was in Russia for the summer to visit his longtime girlfriend and to take Russian language classes, his family said. He had been sentenced to nine years in a prison camp, the family’s statement said.
President Joe Biden made a statement saying he was happy to announce to Reed’s family that he would be released.
“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 said in a statement. “I heard in the voices of Trevor’s parents how much they’ve worried about his health and missed his presence. And I was delighted to be able to share with them the good news about Trevor’s freedom. I’m grateful for the work of many across our government. Trevor’s safe return is a testament to the priority we place on bringing home Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad.”
Reed served as a U.S. Marine and in the presidential guard for President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden, according to his family.
2. Reed’s Family Said They Have Been ‘Living in a Nightmare’ Since His Arrest
Reed’s family released a lengthy statement on the release of Reed, beginning with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it is done.” They said they had been “living in a nightmare for 985 days since Reed was arrested, and that the release was the answer to their prayers.
They thanked Biden “for making the decision to bring Trevor home.”
“Today, our prayers have been answered and he is safely on his way back to the United States,” the statement said.
Reed had been sentenced to serve nine years in prison, and the maximum sentence for the crime for which he was charged was 10 years, his family said in a separate statement.
“This was the longest sentence on record in Russia in the last 20+ years. Russians that have attempted to murder police officers with weapons and critically injured them received sentences less than 9 years. In one case a Russian man was accused of the same acts that Trevor is accused of and he only paid a fine and was released. The accusations in the case appear to keep changing,” the statement said. “Based on the evidence in Trevor’s favor and the lack of undisputed evidence for the government, we believe the charges have been manufactured or exaggerated for some reason.”
3. Reed’s Family Said They Believe Reed Was Targeted Because He Was an American
Reed’s family described the events leading up to his arrest in a statement, saying he was at an office party with his girlfriend when he was either drugged, or became severely intoxicated.
“While attending an office party with his girlfriend he became severely intoxicated or drugged. Later, the police were called and they took him to the police station instead of a medical facility which is the norm for intoxicated Russian citizens. We believe this was because he was American and they knew he had money,” the statement said.
His family said that his girlfriend and others were asked for a bribe, and they were told to return a few hours later to pick him up.
“Just prior to her return, Trevor was interrogated by the FSB about his military service. Soon after they left, he was charged with a Level II crime of intentionally endangering the lives of the police officers who brought him to the jail. Trevor’s bail was denied based on a false charge of improper registration,” the statement said.
Access to videos that may have depicted the alleged assault leading to his arrest were not initially provided to his defense team, the family said.
“The Defense obtained hours of video from several cameras along the police car route that show the police lied about what happened on the drive to the station,” the statement said. “The videos were analyzed by Russian government experts that determined that the police car never swerved at all and also never slowed down. When the police officers were pressed by the Defense attorneys in court, they changed their stories several times and finally said they didn’t remember. These changing stories brought about laughter in the courtroom including the judge.”
4. Reed Is Suffering From Health Problems Due to His Imprisonment, & He Will Tell His Story on His Own Time, His Family Said
Reed made headlines when he went on a hunger strike to protest his treatment, saying that when he contracted tuberculosis, he was sent to solitary confinement instead of treatment, according to NPR.
Reed’s family said they expect he will tell his story on his own time, but asked for privacy while he recovers, according to the statement from his family.
“While we understand the interest in Trevor’s story — and as soon as he’s ready, he’ll tell his own story, we’d respectfully ask for some privacy while we address the myriad of health issues brought on by the squalid conditions he was subjected to in his Russian gulag,” the statement said.
Reed’s father, Joey Reed, told Fox News about the harsh conditions his son faced in the Russian prison.
“He was essentially in solitary confinement, I believe, for over a year in a pretty bad prison,” Joey Reed told Fox News. “Once he got to the labor camp … they would wake him up every hour. You know, they were punishing him for different things.”
“My son saw the sun maybe a dozen times in two years,” Joey Reed added, according to Fox News.
5. Donors Contributed Nearly $50,000 to Reed’s Family Through a GoFundMe
A flood of support followed Reed’s imprisonment, and a GoFundMe to help his family secure his release generated nearly $50,000 as of April 27, 2022.
“Trevor does not remember the events of the evening, because according to expert analysis he had severe alcohol poisoning and should have been unconscious or comatose,” his family wrote on GoFundMe. “Please help us bring this situation to the attention of government officials and bring Trevor home.”
His family met with Biden and advocated for Reed, the statement said.
“They spoke of Trevor’s childhood, his service to country in USMC, how he was excelling in his college courses, and his hopes of securing a job with the State Department after his college graduation,” the statement said.
U.S. senior administration officials said Reed was in “good spirits” and that his health was an “intense concern,” according to Fox News. His health was a primary factor in his release, Fox News reported.
“This is a discreet issue in which we were able to make an arrangement with the Russians,” an official told Fox News. “It represents no change – zero – to our approach to the appalling violence in Ukraine.”