Trevor Reed says White House isn’t doing enough to bring Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home

The former US Marine, freed from a Russian prison in April, said he believes President Joe Biden is not doing enough to bring home basketball star Brittney Griner or CEO 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 will move quickly to release US citizens held in Russian jails and prisons.

But he said he was frustrated by 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 is or isn’t doing — that’s obviously 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 an opportunity to get them out extremely quickly and they have clearly chosen not to do that. So no, in my opinion they are not doing enough.”

Image: Trevor Reed
Trevor Reed stands in a defendant’s holding cell during a court hearing in Moscow March 11, 2020.Alexander Nemenov / AFP – Getty Images file

Reed, who has repeatedly denied the assault allegations that led to his sentence, added that he was “extremely grateful that the Biden administration and President Biden made this 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 ultimately makes that decision – that decision has to come from above. And for that I am grateful. And I appreciate that. But I think 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 “committed to bringing Paul home as soon as possible.”

In a separate call with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, the White House said Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were “trying to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible.”

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who played for a Russian basketball team in the WNBA off-season, was arrested in February after Russian authorities found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Griner pleaded guilty to drug offenses this month. Her attorneys, arguing that she was in a rush and had accidentally grabbed the canisters, submitted medical records to the court last week showing that Arizona authorities had allowed her to use cannabis to treat injury-related chronic pain.

U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said Griner was “wrongly imprisoned.” Elizabeth Rood, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Moscow, has repeated that position since Griner’s guilty plea.

Griner’s trial resumes Tuesday and she is not expected to testify as her legal team provides more evidence.

Whelan, a company security officer, 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 insisted he is innocent.

US Ambassador to Russia John J. Sullivan has called Whelan’s conviction a “mockery of justice.”

Tatyana Chiistikova contributed. Trevor Reed says White House isn’t doing enough to bring Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home

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