Trevor Reed has ‘good feeling’ Russia will accept prisoner swap offer

Trevor Reed, the former U.S. Marine released from Russian custody earlier this year, on Thursday said he has a “good feeling” that Russia will accept a reported prisoner swap proposal from the Biden administration for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

Reed, who was imprisoned in Russia for nearly three years and released in a prisoner swap in April, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “New Day” that he was “cautiously optimistic” the deal would pull through because it was in the best interests of both the U.S. and Russia.

“I’m not positive, but I have a good feeling about it,” Reed said. “I am optimistic that they are going to agree on that.”

The Biden administration is reportedly offering to swap convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, who is in U.S. custody, for both Whelan and Griner, who are being detained in Russia. Wednesday’s news sparked some hope for the detainees’ families and the public, who have been advocating for their release.

Still, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday told The Associated Press “no agreements have been finalized” and that negotiations must be conducted quietly.

Griner, a WNBA star, was detained by Russian authorities in February after she was caught with cannabis oil cartridges.

Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested in Russia in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020 on espionage charges he denies.

Reed, who previously criticized the White House for not doing enough to secure the release of Griner and Whelan, told CNN the news has probably not reached the two detainees in Russia.

“It’s sometimes difficult to receive information there from the outside,” Reed said. “They do kind of like to keep you isolated there. I know there were times when I didn’t receive any outside news for weeks at a time.”

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have increased since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in late February, reaching heights not seen since the Cold War.

Reed said Russia is growing increasingly bold and will continue to detain Americans regardless of whether the U.S. swaps prisoners or not.

“If that’s the argument, that this incentivizes taking people and wrongfully detaining people, I think the evidence shows they are going to do that anyway,” Reed said.