WASHINGTON (AP MODIFIED) — Russia and the United States have exchanged prisoners. Russia released a Marine veteran jailed in Moscow while the U.S. released a convicted Russian drug trafficker serving a prison sentence in Connecticut.
Wednesday's exchange occurred as Russia’s war with Ukraine has driven relations with the U.S. to their lowest point in decades.
Russia gave up Trevor Reed, a Texas resident arrested in 2019 after Russian authorities said he assaulted an officer. The U.S. returns Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who'd been serving 20 years for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
President Joe Biden says negotiations for Reed's release “required difficult decisions.” Americans still jailed in Russia include Paul Whelan. The Novi man remains locked up in a Russian labor camp, serving a 16 year sentence for spying.
The charge is something Whelan had always denied, claiming when he was arrested in Russia four years ago, he was simply there to attend a friend's wedding.
Whelan's family released a statement today that read in part:
"Our family is full of happiness for the Reeds, whose son, Trevor, has been released from detention by the Russian government. It's the event that we hope for so much in our own lives. Hopefully, Trevor will now get the medical attention and care he needs deserves. He is reunited with his family.
Trevor is free. Paul remains a hostage."