The family of Trevor Reed said their "prayers have been answered" after the Marine veteran was brought home in a surprising prisoner swap with Russia on Wednesday.
Reed had been jailed in Moscow after being sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. Russian authorities said he was arrested in 2019 for assaulting an officer while being taken to a police station after a night of drinking. His family said he was innocent, and the U.S. government has maintained that he was unjustly detained.
"Today, our prayers have been answered and Trevor is safely on his way back to the United States," Joey, Paula and Taylor Reed said in a statement.
Reed was returned in a swap for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, according to a spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Yaroshenko was arrested in 2010 in Liberia and extradited to the U.S., where he was given a 20-year federal prison sentence in Connecticut for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the country.
The surprising swap occurred as relations between U.S. and Russia are at their worst point in decades following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Reed's parents, Joey and Paula, spoke about his plight on TODAY last year and pleaded for his return, even if it meant conducting a prisoner swap with Russia.
"Witnesses and video evidence were ignored by the judge, and he was given the longest sentence in modern Russian history for the crime,” Paula Reed said.
They also worried about his health and said that he had been diagnosed with Covid at the time.
The family thanked administration officials as well as President Joe Biden in their statement on Wednesday, saying the president's actions "may have saved Trevor's life."
"I heard in the voices of Trevor’s parents how much they’ve worried about his health and missed his presence," Biden said in a statement. "And I was delighted to be able to share with them the good news about Trevor’s freedom."
The family is focused on Reed's recovery now that he's back home.
"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 said.
Biden added in his statement that the U.S. government "won't stop" until another former Marine jailed in Russia, corporate security executive Paul Whelan, is also returned. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison last year on suspicion of spying. His brother said on TODAY last year that Whelan is innocent and was "wrongly accused."
American basketball star Brittney Griner, whom Russian officials said had a cannabis derivative found in her bag at a Russian airport in February, also remains detained in Moscow.