Former Marine Trevor Reed credited President Biden with his release from Russia after more than two years in prison in his first television interview since returning home.
The Biden administration secured the release of Reed through a prisoner swap for a Russian jailed in the US for drug trafficking.
“He’s the person who held the single most important role in that the decision,” Reed said of Biden, during an exclusive interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper broadcast Sunday evening.
“And I think that President Biden made the right one,” he added.
Reed received a nine-year prison sentence for allegedly assaulting an officer while he was drunk in 2019.
Reed’s family had advocated for his release for years and finally met with President Biden in March.
“And a lot of people are not going to like what I’m going to say about this, but I kind of viewed their — having hope as being a weakness,” Reed told Tapper of his mindset while in prison.
“So I did not want to have that hope of, like, me, you know, being released somehow and then have that taken from me,” he added. « I wouldn’t let myself hope. »
Since his release, Reed has joined in the push for the release of other wrongfully detained Americans, especially Paul Whelan, another former marine who was arrested in Moscow in 2018 and has been detained on espionage charges, which he denies.
“When they told me that I was leaving, I thought that Paul was leaving with me, and when I found out that they left him, that was tough,” Reed told Tapper. “The fact is that the United States should have gotten him out and we have to get him out at any cost.”
In a statement released by his family, Whelan said after Reed’s release, “Why was I left behind?”
“While I am pleased Trevor is home with his family, I have been held on a fictitious charge of espionage for 40 months,” he said, per CNN.
WNBA star Brittney Griner also remains imprisoned in Russia, accused of possessing marijuana vaping supplies in an airport.
The US earlier this month said it considers her “wrongfully detained” by Russia’s government, signaling a change in how it will work to bring her home.