The family of Trevor Reed, the former Marine released in a prisoner exchange with Russia last week, called on the government to act on other Americans being held abroad — including fellow Marine Paul Whelan and WNBA star Brittany Griner — during a Wednesday rally outside of the White House.
Reed, a 30-year-old from Texas, served nearly three years in Russian jail before he was returned to the U.S. last week in a prisoner exchange with Russia.
Reed’s father, Joey Reed, spoke at the “Bring Our Families Home” rally at Lafayette Square, saying his son is recovering at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, under the care of Army experts.
“He wanted to be here today. He’s extremely upset about Paul Whelan, a fellow Marine, being left behind. We weren’t going to come … and my son said we needed to be here,” Joey Reed said.
Whelan is a Michigan corporate security executive and former U.S. Marine who has been held in Russia since 2018 on espionage-related charges, which his family denies.
Joey Reed emphasized that prisoner exchanges may be the best way to bring Americans back home.
“Our Americans, sometimes these foreign countries want to trade for them, they have someone that they have here that they want to get back,” he said. In Reed’s case, President Joe Biden commuted the sentence of Konstantin Yaroshenko, a convicted Russian drug trafficker serving time in Connecticut.
“Our son was in horrible, squalid third world conditions in Russia, which is typical there, versus the prisoners they want back. They’re living in comfortable minimal security conditions with cable TV, air-conditioning, good food and talk to their family in their native language on a regular basis. All these families behind us are largely deprived of any of those things,” he continued.
“We need our president and the government to bring all of them home and not wait so long to do it.”
He also touched on Griner’s case.
The star center for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested in February on drug charges after a search of her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow turned up vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis, according to authorities.
On Tuesday, the State Department classified her as “wrongfully detained by the Russian government.”
“It took our son a year to get that classification,” Joey Reed said. “We’re so glad that it only took them a short time to classify Miss Griner as wrongfully detained.”
He said thanks to support from the public and media attention on Reed’s case, the family was able to meet with Biden.
“We know that he wants to do the right thing for all of these families,” he said.
Paul Whelan’s sister, Elizabeth Whelan, also spoke at the gathering.
“Paul Whelan has now been held for 1,224 days. That’s about three years and four months,” she said.
Her brother was first held in a notorious prison and is now in a labor camp, she said.
“It’s like entering a labyrinth where you have no idea to get out, you don’t know where your loved one is, you don’t know who is going to help you along the way. But we need our government to help get our loved ones home. This is not something that families can do themselves,” she said.
She called on the White House to better address cases of American hostages and detainees abroad “because it’s a growing problem.”
There are 55 Americans currently being held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas, according to the Bring Our Families Home campaign. The group said at least 16 of those being held could come home through a prisoner swap.
“The Whelans need the White House to act to bring my brother home. We recently celebrated the release of Trevor Reed now reunited with his family. That’s fantastic news,” she said. “But everyone of else is waiting, stuck in the labyrinth still waiting for that door to open and our loved one to walk through.”