WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that “difficult decisions” had been made to secure the release of a former US marine jailed in Russia in exchange for a Russian pilot held in the United States.
While welcoming the return of Trevor Reed to his family, Biden said the negotiations that resulted in the prisoner swap “required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly.”
The prisoner trade comes at a time of soaring tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.
Reed’s “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.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also praised the swap.
“I am pleased to announce the release of US citizen Trevor Reed, who was wrongfully detained in Russia,” Blinken said in a statement.
“We also remain committed to securing the freedom of all US nationals wrongfully detained abroad,” he added.
Moscow on Wednesday also announced the swap of Reed for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.
Reed, a student and former marine from Texas, was in July 2020 sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court after allegedly attacking police officers while drunk. He pleaded not guilty, saying he does not remember the incident.
Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia in 2010 for drug trafficking. He was then transferred to the United States, where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison in September 2011.