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Moscow exchanges an American for a Russian imprisoned in the United States

As relations between the United States and Russia have cooled considerably since the invasion of Ukraine, the two countries have agreed to exchange Trevor Reed, an American citizen for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian accused of drug trafficking in connection with the Colombian FARC. According to Konstantin Yaroshenko’s wife, the exchange took place in Turkey.

“Trevor, a former US Marine, has been released from prison in Russia”wrote Joe Biden in a communicated. “The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly”he added. “His safe return is a testament to the priority my administration places on the repatriation of Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad.”, he said. Detained in a penal colony in Mordovia, 500 km from Moscow, Mr. Reed had gone on a hunger strike in November 2021 to protest against his conditions of detention.

Russian diplomacy had announced just before that Trevor Reed, sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia for violence, had been exchanged for Konstantin Yaroshenkoa Russian pilot imprisoned in the United States for cocaine trafficking, referring to “a long process of negotiation”.

Trevor Reed, aged 30, was sentenced in July 2020 to nine years in prison for having assaulted in August 2019, while intoxicated, two police officers called to the scene of a party in Moscow. He had denied the attack and denounced a case ” Politics “ against the background of Russian-American tensions.

Konstantin Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia in 2010 by US secret service agents. Accused of drug trafficking, he had been taken to the United States, where justice had sentenced him to twenty years in prison.

Washington is still calling for the release of Paul Whelansentenced in Moscow for espionage.

The United States does not expect any improvement in relations with Russia and will continue to support Ukraine despite this exchange, a US official said. The “discussions with the Russians that led to this exchange were strictly limited to these topics”it was not ” not (of)a larger conversation or even (of) start of a conversation »he said on condition of anonymity.

US President Joe Biden pledged to do everything to free Trevor Reed and other Americans “wrongfully detained” in Russia, and the hypothesis of an exchange of prisoners was regularly raised, especially before the meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in Geneva in June 2021. The Russian president then showed himself open to such a possibility, adding that he had “a whole list” of Russians incarcerated in American prisons.

Exchanges of prisoners were frequent between Moscow and the West until the end of the Cold War in 1991, and have never completely ceased, especially since the coming to power in 2000 of Vladimir Putin. They most often concern spies, as in 2010 when ten members of a Russian network arrested by the FBI were exchanged for two Russians working for the CIA and the British services, as well as a researcher.

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