The former US Marine, who was released from a Russian prison in April, said he believes President Joe Biden is not doing enough to bring home basketball star Brittney Griner or director Paul Whelan.
Trevor Reed, who was released in a prisoner swap for Russian drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko after serving more than two years behind bars, said in an interview that he believes the White House can quickly authorize the release of American citizens in Russian jails and prisons. accomplish.
But he said he was frustrated with the public pace of action in the cases of Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury who was arrested this year, and Whelan, who was taken into custody in 2018.
“I can’t say 100% what the White House does or doesn’t do — that’s clearly not public information,” said Reed, whose full interview will air Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET on “Hallie Jackson NOW.”
“But in my opinion the White House has the ability to get them out extremely quickly, and they have clearly chosen not to. So no, in my opinion they are not doing enough.”
Reed, who has repeatedly denied the assault charges that led to his jail term, added that he was “extremely grateful that the Biden administration and President Biden made that decision to get me out.”
“I think that was the ethical decision, and I think they did the right thing,” said Reed, who was sentenced to nine years in prison. “He makes that decision in the end – that decision has to come from the top. And, you know, I’m grateful for that. And I appreciate that. But I think, you know, he has a responsibility to keep doing the right thing .”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
After Biden spoke to Whelan’s sister this month, the White House said it was “determined to get Paul home as soon as possible.”
In a separate conversation with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, the White House said Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were trying to assure her that he is working to release Brittney as soon as possible.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who played for a Russian basketball team during the WNBA season, was arrested in February after Russian authorities found vape cans containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession this month. Her attorneys, alleging she was in a hurry and accidentally packed the jerry cans, filed medical records with the court last week that showed Arizona authorities had allowed her to use cannabis to treat injury-related chronic pain. .
US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have said Griner is “unjustly detained”. Elizabeth Rood, Chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Moscow, has reiterated that stance since Griner’s guilty plea.
Griner’s trial continues Tuesday and she is not expected to testify as her legal team presents more evidence.
Whelan, a corporate security manager, has said he was visiting Russia for a friend’s wedding in 2018 when he was arrested; he was later convicted of espionage. In 2020, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. He has maintained that he is innocent.
US Ambassador to Russia, John J. Sullivan, has called Whelan’s conviction a “mockery of justice.”
Tatyana Chistikova contributed.