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Marine veteran Trevor Reed released from Russian prison as part of prisoner exchange

Reed had been sentenced to a Russian penal colony.

April 27, 2022, 9:19 AM

LONDON -- Trevor Reed, a former Marine from Texas who had been held in a Russian prison, has been released as part of an international prisoner exchange, according to statements from the White House and Russia's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

"Today, we welcome home Trevor Reed and celebrate his return to the family that missed him dearly," President Joe Biden said in a statement. "Trevor, a former U.S. Marine, is free from Russian detention. 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."

Reed was exchanged for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, a convicted drug trafficker, Russian officials said. Entering into negotiations with Russian officials for Reed’s release “required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly,” Biden said. He has been held in Russia since 2019.

PHOTO: A poster photo of U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Russian prisoner Trevor Reed stands in Lafayette Park near the White House, March 30, 2022, in Washington. D.C.
A poster photo of U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Russian prisoner Trevor Reed stands in Lafayette Park near the White House, March 30, 2022, in Washington. D.C.
Patrick Semansky/AP, FILE

“His safe return is a testament to the priority my Administration places on bringing home Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad," he said. "We won’t stop until Paul Whelan and others join Trevor in the loving arms of family and friends."

Russian state media aired video of Reed at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow on Wednesday.

Speaking to ABC News by phone, Reed's father, Joey Reed, said his son was a bit "overwhelmed" by the news.

Doctors on the flight are assessing Trevor, Joey Reed said. Trevor went on hunger strike in November to protest against conditions while in solitary confinement in the remote labor camp where he was being held, with the former Marine suffering from deteriorating health in recent months, according to his lawyers.

According to his father, Trevor was first flown from Russia to Turkey where he was exchanged on the tarmac for Yaroshenko.

"He said it was like a movie -- they walked past each other like in a spy swap," Joey Reed said. "Our understanding is the next time Trevor steps off the plane he will be in America."

In a statement, Reed's family said their "prayers had been answered and Trevor is safely on his way back to the United States."

"First and foremost, we’d like to thank President Biden for his kindness, his consideration, and for making the decision to bring Trevor home," the family said. "The president’s action may have saved Trevor’s life."

They went on, "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 family also said they "stand proudly" with the family of Paul Whelan, another former Marine serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges in a maximum-security prison colony, and the other families of "wrongfully detained Americans" who are awaiting their release.

It had long been speculated that Russian national Yaroshenko would be part of any prisoner swap involving American citizens jailed in Russia, though the timing has come as a surprise, with U.S.-Russia relations strained by the war in Ukraine. In 2010, Yaroshenkowas arrested as part of a DEA operation in Liberia and taken to the U.S., which the Russian Foreign Ministry described as an "effective kidnapping."

ABC’s Jim Ryan reports on the release.

ABC News' Conor Finnegan contributed to this report

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