THE TEXAS CITY OF SAN ANTONIO In February, Trevor Reed said he feared he might never return home because of the conflict in Ukraine.
The former Marine from the United States had been taken hostage in Russia for nearly three years after he was convicted on fabricated charges and detained as a hostage. While in Russian custody for 985 days, Reed was incarcerated in a number of Russian prisons, isolated from the rest of the jail population in cells as small as closets for 23 hours a day, placed in an asylum, and sent to a work camp that Reed described as “out of medieval times.”
Reed returned to the United States on April 27 after a prisoner swap arranged by the Biden administration and the Kremlin liberated him in less than two months. Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2011 for conspiring to transport cocaine into the United States, was exchanged for Reed’s release.
Reed has returned to the United States and is adjusting to normal life with his family for the first time.
One of the former Marine’s first interviews since his release was with ABC News: “I’ve been hanging out with the family a lot, been trying to get used to being free again.” “That procedure necessitates a certain amount of patience. However, my health improves on a daily basis.”
At the time of his detention in Moscow, he claimed to weigh a healthy 175 pounds and be studying international security at the Moscow State University where he was detained in the summer of 2019. His weight had plummeted to 131 pounds when he was released from prison, and he said he was sick and coughing up blood, fearing he had tuberculosis at the time.
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“He was a mess. He appeared to be underweight and had black circles under his eyes, and he didn’t resemble the Trevor who departed for Russia “Paula Reed, Reed’s mother, spoke to ABC News. As a result, it was difficult to watch him in such a state.
While in Moscow visiting his Russian lover, a recent law school grad, the 30-year-old Texas native was kidnapped. During Reed’s time in Russia, he went to a party with his girlfriend’s friends, where he was plied with vodka shots and became inebriated.
His girlfriend, Alina Tsybulnik, says Reed was uncontrollable on the trip home and leaped out of the car. In fear about Reed’s safety, Tsybulnik and her pals reportedly called the police to request that Reed be sent to a sobering facility.
After Reed was taken to the station by two police officers, Reed’s girlfriend was instructed to pick him up the next morning. In the morning, Reed, who says he last remembers being in the park, says he was able to exit the police station’s lobby.
His girlfriend was due to arrive to pick him up at this point, but a shift change occurred and cops decided to detain him instead. And then the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s strong domestic spy agency, arrived and began questioning him, he claimed.
According to Reed, “I very well understood where this case was headed as soon as I spotted FSB personnel.”
Reed said that the most important question they asked him was regarding his military service. “Not a single inquiry was asked of me regarding whether or not I had broken any laws. That was the furthest thing from their mind. They were particularly interested in learning about my time in the military.”
Police officers who had seized Reed overnight accused him of attacking them and charging them with endangering their lives when they arrived, leading to Reed’s arrest the next morning.
He was taken into custody right away.
Former US Marine Trevor Reed speaks with CNN’s @jaketapper about his time as a prisoner in Russia. The exclusive sit-down interview will air in the CNN Special Report, Finally Home: The Trevor Reed Interview, Sunday, May 22 at 8pmET. Watch preview here: https://t.co/dwenUCegNC
— CNN (@CNN) May 20, 2022
Reed was put on trial in what he called a “kangaroo court” which the U.S. embassy characterized as a ridiculous situation. The two police officers Reed is accused of assaulting at a hearing attended by ABC News failed to recall the incident and frequently contradicted themselves, becoming so confused that the judge laughed them out of court.
According to Reed, the police revealed to him that they had been ordered to fabricate the false claims against him during an interrogation with them at the time of their arrest.
“‘Why are you guys doing this?’ I asked one of those officers. This claim against me is completely untrue; why did you write it?’ ‘We didn’t want to write this,’ he remarked to the second officer, who checked at the door and confirmed that no one was inside. “This is what they told us to write.” Reed chimed in.
Reed, although believing the outcome of the trial was set, fought tirelessly to clear his name. As part of Russia’s pressure on him, he claimed that a mental health treatment facility was sent his way in an attempt to “frighten” him into quitting his resistance.
“That was a colossal failure on your part. The walls are covered in blood. The toilet is accessible through a small hole in the floor “Reed reported that excrement was strewn across the floor of the cramped cell he shared with four other mentally ill detainees.
It occurred to Reed that they might have taken him there to chemically disable him, by administering sedatives or some other form of anesthesia that would render him helpless.
Trevor Reed, a former Marine, and his parents, Paula and Joey Reed stand with ABC News reporter Patrick Reevell on May 21, 2022.
Our heartfelt thanks to @trevorrowdyreed for pushing with us to bring #PaulWhelan home by any means possible. Paul needs to be back in Michigan, not stuck in #Russia, and we’re counting on @Potus not to let us down on this. @freetrevorreed @StateSPEHA @WHNSC @WHCOS https://t.co/PYwuOqmYps
— elizabethwhelan (@elizabethwhelan) May 23, 2022
Reed was convicted and sentenced to nine years in jail in mid-2020 after spending almost a year in a pre-trial detention facility he characterized as “very unclean” and “filled with rats.” Upon arriving in Mordovia, a former Gulag camp erected in the aftermath of World War II, he was detained in a maximum-security jail.
Reed, on the other hand, stated that he would not labor or abide by jail regulations.
I felt it would be unethical to work for a regime that was kidnapping Americans and holding them as political hostages, Reed explained. Myself, I couldn’t make sense of it.
At night, the freezing cell floor was covered with blankets and a hot water pipe was used to keep him warm. He was confined to solitary confinement for 15 days at a time, according to his account.
However daunting the task, Reed insisted that he would not be deterred by it.
Won The Respect Of The Inmates
When he refused to work, the guards at the camp “hated” him, Reed recalled, but he was admired by his other detainees.
There were “constant battles and resistances” against the administration, he claimed. “The criminal element in the Russian prison was admired by the inmates.”
Maintaining his efforts to fight for justice while denying the hope of returning home helped him get through the ordeal.
Reed’s parents, meantime, we’re still fighting for their son’s freedom. With no help from the U.S. government, Joey Reed traveled to Russia and stayed there for more than a year to be at his son’s side during his court proceedings and persuade Russian diplomats on his behalf. In the United States, he and his family launched a ferocious effort to persuade government leaders on both sides of the aisle to support him.
Such a special moment in @jaketapper‘s interview with Trevor Reed and his family. The entire sit-down — on what Reed went through and how the administration secured his return — is worth watching. pic.twitter.com/9IpYYTx8Eo
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) May 23, 2022
A meeting with Vice President Biden, which Joey and Paula Reed acknowledge as pivotal in pushing his administration to finally make the exchange, was the culmination of their battle.
“My parents and my girlfriend, Alina, did everything,” Trevor Reed stated. It was as if they had given up everything in order to help me.”
FSB agents loaded Reed aboard a jet without telling him where they were taking him, according to Reed. Reed had no idea where he was going until he saw the Black Sea in the distance and knew he had to be flying to Turkey. Reed, though, was concerned about the Russian government plane’s condition and believed it would crash before they made it to the transfer.
He walked by Yaroshenko on the tarmac in Turkey, he said.
“When I saw him, he turned and stared at me. When I saw him, I thought, “that’s what he looks like,” and I believe both of us had the same reaction.” Reed chimed in.
Reed, who was seen by medics en route back, admitted that he had a hard time shaking his newfound fear of flying.
It was “mostly I was hoping that the jet didn’t crash at that moment,” he stated.
Well done, @jaketapper. I’d not heard the intricacies behind Trevor’s arrest before. So eye opening.
I feel like Paul Whelan’s case has not had near enough publicity. Hopefully now Trevor is home, and throwing his weight behind his case, pressure will be put on for his release. pic.twitter.com/rx6HMK7zDX
— The Instigator 🌏🐧🦞 (@Thee_Instig8or) May 23, 2022
Wages Engage In Hostage-Taking To Free The Remaining Captives
His parents were waiting for him when he arrived in the U.S., but Reed wouldn’t let them hug or touch him until he had a comprehensive medical test to make sure he didn’t have tuberculosis or any other contagious diseases.
He has been trying to adapt to normal life since he was released from the hospital, even having to learn a few words of English after speaking Russian for three years.
Reed, on the other hand, said he can’t stop thinking about Paul Whelan, the other former Marine being kept hostage in Russia. On espionage accusations that the U.S. government claims were allegedly concocted to hold Whelan as a bargaining tool when he was detained in Moscow in 2018, Whelan is being held. Whelan is serving a 16-year term in a Mordovia prison camp.
As recently as a few months ago, Russia has considered surrendering Whelan for Yaroshenko and other Russians being jailed in the United States, as well as Reed and Whelan together.
“I felt a profound sense of remorse that I was out of prison but Paul Whelan remained behind bars. When I learned that there was an exchange taking place, I assumed they’d swapped Paul Whelan out as well. And I fully anticipated him to accompany me back to my apartment. He, on the other hand, did not “Reed had this to say.
I thought it was terrible that they let Reed out, but not Paul, Reed choked back tears as he spoke. The thought crossed my mind that I would do everything in my power to get him out of there as soon as I was able.
— Katy Blakey (@KatyBlakeyNBC5) May 23, 2022
When Russian police claimed to have found hash oil in Brittney Griner’s suitcase earlier this year, Reed expressed his concern for the WNBA star’s well-being as well. Griner has been identified as unlawfully held by the State Department.
Russia has reportedly discussed the possibility of exchanging Viktor Bout, a known arms trader, for Whelan and Griner. On narco-terrorism charges, Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Reed urged the United States to trade Bout for Whelan and Griner’s freedom without hesitation.
“That’s what I believe they should do. So long as Viktor Bout gets his way, I’m not bothered. Any number of Victor Bouts will do. We’ve got to get them out of here “Reed had to say.
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There will be two Americans doing lengthy sentences for one offender who will be released in a few months after serving 15 years in prison, he asserted.
He stated that the United States administration should not hesitate to engage in further prisoner exchanges in order to liberate the other American hostages.
Reed sneered at the idea that prisoner exchanges encourage other countries to kidnap more people when reminded of the argument.
Reed added, “I would like to say that that’s entirely untrue.” Russia, China, Venezuela, Rwanda, Iran, Syria, and other countries like those have no reason to kidnap Americans, thus this isn’t a problem at all.