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Exclusive: Trevor Reed pushes back against criticism of US involvement in prisoner swaps

While some critics say U.S. participation in the exchanges could spur foreign governments to hold Americans hostage or prisoners on false charges as a form of leverage, Reed told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he doesn’t didn’t buy their argument.

“What you have to understand is that countries like North Korea – Russia now, obviously, China, Syria, Iran, Venezuela – countries like that are going to hold Americans hostage no matter what. ‘it happens,” Reed told Tapper in a recently released statement. excerpt from CNN’s upcoming special report: “Home at Last: The Trevor Reed Interview,” airing Sunday night. “And even if they don’t get an exchange for these prisoners, they will do it anyway out of sheer malice, just to show the United States that ‘we’ve taken your citizens’.”

Reed told Tapper in the clip, which aired on CNN’s “State of the Union,” that he believed these nations would “continue to do so as long as American citizens go there.”

Reed, a former US Marine, was sentenced to nine years in prison in July 2020 after being accused of endangering the “life and health” of Russian police officers during an altercation the previous year. He and his family have denied the charges against him.

As part of a prisoner exchange with the United States for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian smuggler convicted of conspiracy to import cocaine, Reed was released from Russia in April. The United States commuted Yaroshenko’s sentence.

Reed, in the upcoming interview clip, argued that what sets the United States apart from other nations is its willingness to bring Americans home when they are held hostage or wrongfully imprisoned at the stranger.

“The United States came out and made the ethical decision to swap prisoners to get their innocent Americans out of this country, even swapping them for someone who is more prominent and valuable in the United States,” said Reed, later adding that “the Russians, the Chinese, the Venezuelans, Iran, Syria, North Korea — none of them in all of their history have ever made or would make an exchange against a prisoner who is just an average citizen. that’s what sets the United States apart.”

Meanwhile, two other Americans, Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, are still being held in Russia.

A senior administration official told CNN last month that he doesn’t necessarily see Reed’s successful repatriation as translating into momentum for Whelan and Griner’s cases, but said the U.S. government will continue to do so. pressure for their release and that the channel for potential exchanges would remain open.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, last week.

According to a senior State Department official, the top US diplomat said Griner’s release was a top priority for the department and had its full attention.

Reed recalls his state of mind in prison, the horrific conditions of the Russian mental institution

In previously released clips from Sunday night’s documentary, Reed recalled his time in a mental institution for prisoners and discussed his state of mind during his time behind bars.

Reed told Tapper he believed he was sent to a psychiatric treatment center as punishment for his continued efforts to appeal his conviction.

He described the facility: “There was blood all over the wall there – where prisoners had committed suicide, or killed other prisoners, or attempted to.”

“The toilet is just a hole in the floor. And there’s, you know, shit everywhere, all over the floor, on the walls. There’s also people in there walking around looking like zombies,” he continued.

Reed said he hadn’t slept for a few days for fear of what the people in his cell might do to him.

In another clip released on Friday, Reed said he had denied himself hope of getting out of Russian prison.

“And a lot of people aren’t going to like what I’m going to say about that, but I kind of see their — having hope as a weakness,” he said. “So I didn’t want to have this hope, like, me, you know, of somehow being released and then having it taken away from me.”

“I wouldn’t get hoped up,” he later remarked.

CNN’s Devan Cole contributed to this report.

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