June 24, 2024

Marine Veteran Freed From Russia In Prisoner Swap Got Injured While Fighting In Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former U.S. Marine who was released from Russia in a prisoner swap last year has been injured while fighting in Ukraine, the State Department said Tuesday.

Trevor Reed was wounded several weeks ago, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. He has been taken to Germany for medical care, said State Department spokesman Vedant Patel.

U.S. officials said little about Reed’s injury or presence in Ukraine beyond noting that his activities weren’t on behalf of the U.S. government. But Reed’s decision to take up arms during Russia’s war with Ukraine potentially complicates U.S. efforts to win the release of two other Americans still detained by Moscow, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and corporate security executive Paul Whelan. His fighting also risked a potentially dire scenario if he’d been captured and returned to Russian custody after the U.S. had worked to get him home.

“As I indicated, we have been incredibly clear warning American citizens, American nationals, not to travel to Ukraine, let alone participate in fighting,” Patel said. “As you know, we are not in a place to provide assistance to evacuate private U.S. citizens from Ukraine, including those Americans who may decide to travel to Ukraine to participate in fighting.”

The severity of Reed’s injury was not immediately clear, but Patel said he was transported out of Ukraine by a non-governmental organization. He was taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a level II trauma care center located near Ramstein Air Base, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

It’s unclear how many Americans have volunteered to fight in Ukraine. But the conflict has attracted fighters from around the world, with Ukrainian authorities saying thousands of volunteers from dozens of countries have joined their cause. Ukraine established an international fighting force just days after Russia’s February 2022 invasion.

Reed was released from Russian custody in an April 2022 prisoner swap in exchange for a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, who’d been serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.

U.S. ex-Marine Trevor Reed, who was detained in 2019 and accused of assaulting police officers, stands inside a defendants’ cage during a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, on March 11, 2020.

Tatyana Makeyeva via Reuters

Reed was arrested in the summer of 2019 after Russian authorities said he assaulted an officer while being driven by police to a police station following a night of heavy drinking. He was later sentenced to nine years in prison.

The U.S. government later designated him as unjustly detained and pressed for his release while his family has asserted his innocence. Relatives also were concerned about his deteriorating health. At one point he said he was coughing up blood while in custody. He also staged a hunger strike to protest the conditions under which he was held.

The Messenger was first to report Reed’s injury.

Associated Press writer Tara Copp in Washington and Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed to this report.

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