Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine who was released by Russia as part of a 2022 prisoner swap after more than 2.5 years in prison, on Tuesday dismissed criticism of the Biden administration’s deal with Iran to release five American prisoners.
The U.S. agreed to release $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds in exchange for the return home of Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi, Morad Tahbaz and two other as-yet-unnamed Americans. The agreement also stipulates that Iran can only use the money for “humanitarian transactions.”
But some, including former President Donald Trump, were quick to criticize the deal, saying it would only provide further incentive for U.S. adversaries to take American hostages.
“Once you pay, you always pay, and many more hostages will be taken,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform. “Our completely incompetent ‘leader’, crooked Joe Biden, gave 6 BILLION DOLLARS for 5 people. Iran gave ZERO for 5.”
However, Reed told CNN’s “The Source” that this was far from the truth, citing his own case. He said even when the U.S. refused to negotiate with Russia after it captured former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, the Kremlin still took Reed hostage and later also arrested WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Reed and Griner were released in a separate prisoner exchange in 2022, while Whelan remains in custody.
“Anyone with sense can recognize that refusing to negotiate with these governments is no guarantee that they will not take more hostages,” Reed said.
Last year, Russia also arrested Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, the first American journalist to be charged with espionage in the country since the Cold War.
Reed argued that the main reason foreign governments take Americans captive is to show that they have the power to embarrass the United States, and that this is likely to continue.
“The incentive to take Americans hostage is that they are Americans and can show that to their own citizens,” he said.
Reed added that he appreciated Biden’s decision on the Iran deal, noting that it must have been challenging to do so before an election year.
“It was probably because of his morals and his feeling that he had to do the right thing by politicians,” Reed said.