(The Hill) — Trevor Reed, a U.S. citizen who was recently freed after being detained in Russia for more than two years, said that prisoner swaps should not be controversial.
In an interview with CNN, Reed told host Jake Tapper that he doesn’t agree with the notion expressed by some critics who believe that foreign countries are holding Americans hostage as a form of leverage and that engaging in swaps incentivizes governments, saying that those countries will take American hostages no matter what.
“The thing that you have to understand is countries like North Korea — Russia now, obviously, China, Syria, Iran, Venezuela — countries like that are going to take Americans hostage no matter what,” Reed told Tapper in the sit-down interview, which will air on Sunday. “And even if they don’t receive some type of exchange for those prisoners, they will do that anyway just out of pure malice just to show the United States that, ‘We took your citizens.’”
Reed also told Tapper that he believes that those countries will still continue to follow the practice if U.S. citizens still travel there.
The interview comes nearly a month after President Biden announced the release of Reed from Russian detainment. Reed’s release was a part of a prisoner exchange with a Russian national who was jailed in the U.S. for drug trafficking charges.
Notable U.S. citizens still detained in Russia included Paul Whalen, who was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison on espionage charges in 2020, and WNBA star Brittney Griner, whose detainment was extended for another 30 days last week on accusations of her being in possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil.
Reed also said that U.S. officials are willing to bring citizens back home who are detained, setting them apart from other countries.
“The United States went out and made the ethical decision to exchange prisoners to get their innocent Americans out of that country, even while exchanging them for someone who’s more high profile and valuable in the United States,” Reed told Tapper.
“The Russians, the Chinese, Venezuelans, Iran, Syria, North Korea — none of them ever in their whole history have or ever would make an exchange for a prisoner who is just an average one of their citizens. They would never do that. And that’s what sets the United States apart.”