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American freed describes conditions in Russian prison

Joey Reed, Paula Reed
Joey Reed, Paula Reed
Posted at 7:53 AM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 09:53:34-04

Trevor Reed, an American who was jailed in Russia in 2019, gave his first interview since being released from custody.

The interview will air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CNN. CNN released excerpts of the interview on Friday as Reed described what it was like to be detained in Russia.

“Over 50 percent of them in that cell were in there for murder or like multiple murders, sexual assault and murder,” Reed told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Just really disturbed individuals. And inside of that cell, you know, that was not a good place. There's blood all over the walls there, where prisoners had killed themselves or killed other prisoners or attempted to do that. The toilet's just a hole in the floor and there's, you know, crap everywhere, all over the floor, on the walls.”

Reed said he was afraid for his life behind bars.

"I mean, I did not sleep there for a couple of days, so I was too, too worried about, you know, who was in the cell with me to actually sleep,” he said.

Reed was convicted in 2020 for assaulting an officer, Russian officials said. Reed has denied the charges.

Last month, the Biden administration completed a prisoner swap with Russian authorities. The U.S. agreed to return Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who'd been serving a 20-year sentence for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.

U.S. officials said it was important to keep negotiations private until his release. The State Department is taking the same approach with other Americans who remain in Russian custody, including basketball star Brittney Griner, who the U.S. says is “wrongfully detained.”

“One factor in getting to this point was our growing concern, which you’ve heard from the family publicly and which we share as a government, of what the status of Trevor Reed’s health was while in detention,” a White House official said following Reed’s release. “That, I think, contributed to really ratcheting up the conversations on this issue, getting to a point where we were able to make this arrangement, getting to a point where we were able to turn to some of the logistics of simply getting it done.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.