Trevor Reed, an ex-prisoner in Russia, is hurt fighting in Ukraine

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, imprisoned in Russia for three years before the U.S. government secured his release through extensive negotiations with Moscow, had quietly joined the war effort in Ukraine and recently sustained serious battlefield wounds, the State Department said Tuesday.

“We are aware that Trevor Reed was injured while participating in fighting in Ukraine,” a spokesperson for the agency, Vedant Patel, told reporters during a news briefing, emphasizing that Reed was not acting in any official capacity.

Reed was transported to a hospital in Germany, Patel said, adding that the evacuation from Ukraine was performed with support from a nongovernmental organization.

Reed was convicted by a Russian court in 2020 after being accused of attacking police officers in Moscow during a night of drinking. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Efforts to secure his release took on new urgency following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, with his family pleading for intervention and citing Reed’s failing health. A deal was reached in April of that year, with the Biden administration agreeing to exchange a former Russian pilot serving time in federal prison for a drug trafficking conviction.

The nature of Reed’s injuries remain unclear. Jonathan Franks, a spokesperson for Reed’s family, declined to comment.

The Messenger, a news site, reported earlier Tuesday that Reed was hurt after stepping on a land mine.

A senior U.S. defense official familiar with the issue said that, in the Pentagon, some people are angry at Reed and believe he squandered his release from Russian detention. Others are indifferent, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.

Patel, the State Department spokesman, declined to say if the revelation that Reed had taken up arms against Russia risked complicating the administration’s ongoing efforts to secure the release of two other Americans detained by Russia, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and business executive Paul Whelan.

Reed, who traveled from North Texas to Moscow to visit his girlfriend in the summer of 2019, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of using violence to endanger the life or health of a government official performing his duties and later told reporters that his case was “clearly political.” The U.S. Ambassador to Russia at that time, John Sullivan, described the evidence used to convict Reed as “so ridiculous that even the judge laughed in court.”

Hundreds of Americans have joined the war effort in Ukraine, both as fighters and support personnel. Many of them, like Reed, served in the U.S. military. At least 16 Americans have died in the conflict as of May.

The State Department used Reed’s injury to reiterate its long-standing warning against traveling to Ukraine.

“We have been incredibly clear warning American citizens, American nationals, not to travel to Ukraine, let alone participate in fighting,” Patel said. “As you know, we are not in a place to provide assistance to evacuate private U.S. citizens from Ukraine, including those Americans who may decide to travel to Ukraine to participate in fighting.”

Timothy Bella contributed to this report.

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