The family of Trevor Reed, a US citizen and former Marine who had been detained in Russia since 2019, said he feels “horrible” that other Americans remain held there, including Paul Whelan.
“He said, ‘I feel horrible about being home and not having Paul here.’ He said, ‘I don’t understand why I’m here and Paul’s not.’ And he said, ‘and I am not doing well now, but as soon as I get better, I’m going to work on bringing Paul home,’ ” Trevor’s mother, Paula, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” on Friday.
Reed was released in a prisoner swap that took place in Turkey on Wednesday after having been detained for nearly three years. His release has brought renewed attention to the cases of Whelan and WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was arrested by Russian authorities in February at a Moscow airport and accused of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance.
Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine, was arrested in Moscow on espionage charges in 2018 and subsequently sentenced to 16 years in prison in a trial US officials denounced as unfair.
Following Reed’s release, Whelan also questioned why he was not included in the prisoner exchange.
“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,” said Whelan, also a citizen of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada, in a statement to his parents and shared with CNN. “The world knows this charge was fabricated. Why hasn’t more been done to secure my release?”
The Reed family told Tapper that Trevor asked members of the Russian security agency FSB, who took him to the site of a prisoner swap with Russian Konstantin Yaroshenko Thursday, about Whelan’s status. “He said, ‘Where’s the other Americans?’” said his father, Joey Reed. “And they said, ‘It’s only you.’”
Officials said Reed’s health was a driving factor in securing his release. His family previously said that he had Covid-19, was exposed to tuberculosis and told them in March he was “coughing up blood multiple times a day, running a fever, and still experiencing pain in his lung.”
Now in the US, Paula Reed said her son “seems to be doing a little bit better every day.”
“I think he’s settling in, and we had a great time visiting with him yesterday,” she said. “And toward the end of the visit, he was more like himself, telling us stories, making us laugh.”
The Reed family said Friday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had told them in a virtual meeting that he is working on “bringing others home still.”
Ned Price, a State Department spokesman, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Wednesday that Griner and Whelan’s cases remain top priorities for the US.
Following Reed’s release, President Joe Biden said in a statement, “The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly. His safe return is a testament to the priority my Administration places on bringing home Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad.”
The President said his administration “won’t stop” until Whelan and other detained Americans are brought home.