Trevor Reed reveals he ‘lost hope,’ describes squalid cell conditions in Russia in first interview since release

Trevor Reed, the former Marine who was jailed in Russia for nearly three years and returned home last month in an extraordinary prisoner swap, reveals he was held in egregious conditions in a psychiatric treatment facility where he feared for his life and lost hope of returning home.

The 30-year-old from Texas said “I wouldn’t let myself hope” for freedom during his 985 days in Russian detention in an excerpt of his first interview since his release on the CNN special “Finally Home: The Trevor Reed Interview,” set to air Sunday.

He revealed that he was held in extreme conditions where blood was smeared on the walls with a hole in the floor for a toilet.


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“The psychiatric treatment facility, I was in there with seven other prisoners in a cell. They all had severe, psychological health issues — most of ‘em,” Reed said to CNN. “So over 50 percent of them in that cell were in there for murder. Or, like, multiple murders, sexual assault and murder — just really disturbed individuals.”

He described the inside of the cell as “not a good place.”

“There was blood all over the walls there — where prisoners had killed themselves, or killed other prisoners, or attempted to do that,” he said. “The toilet’s just a hole in the floor. And there’s, you know, crap everywhere, all over the floor, on the walls. There’s people in there also that walk around that look like zombies.”

Reed didn’t sleep for several days fearing what his cellmates might do to him.

“You felt they might kill you?” host Jake Tapper asked. “Yes. I thought that was a possibility,” Reed replied.

He believed he was sent to the facility as retribution for his appeal efforts. 

Reed was arrested in the summer of 2019 in Russia, accused of assaulting a police officer — claims his family denies — and sentenced to nine years in jail in 2020. 

He was returned to the U.S. in April in a prisoner swap for convicted Russian drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko, whose 20-year prison sentence in the U.S. in 2010 was commuted.

The swap came amid tensions between Russia and the U.S. over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Reed’s family had lobbied for his release, noting in his final days in Russia they were concerned for his ailing health.

During his detention, Reed explained that he lost his hope of ever returning to the U.S.

“A lot of people are not going to like what I’m gonna say about this, but I kind of viewed their — having hope as being a weakness,” he said. “So I did not wanna have that hope of, like, me, you know, being released somehow and then have that taken from me.”

Reed’s father, Joey Reed, said at a rally earlier this month outside of the White House that his son was recovering at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio under the care of Army experts.

Reed’s case has led to renewed demands for the release of fellow Marine Paul Whelan and WNBA star Brittany Griner.

Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive and former Marine, has been held in Russia since 2018 on espionage-related charges, which his family denies.

Whelan’s twin, David Whelan, demanded action in a statement shared with NBC News Thursday. 

“Paul has been struggling to keep in touch with our family. About three weeks ago, Paul’s phone calls became more sporadic. He’s been unable to call our parents since then,” the statement said. 

“Ever since the Trevor Reed and Konstantin Yaroshenko release, we’ve been asked about what made Paul’s case different? Why was he left behind? Perhaps if Paul had been sicker, he might have been included in the exchange,” he continued.

He said Whelan’s family had a call with U.S. State Department representatives this week. 

“They feel we need to do more, ‘make more noise’ or ‘be a squeakier wheel,’” he said. “This is a hard message to hear. The family of a wrongful detainee shouldn’t be bearing the burden of persuading American government officials to act to secure the release of an American citizen wrongfully detained. It’s frustrating. What sort of circus does a family need to put on to make more noise, to squeak louder, to move the immovable levers of government?”

Griner, the star center for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested in February on drug charges after a search of her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow turned up vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis, authorities said.

The State Department classified her this month as being “wrongfully detained by the Russian government.”

Last week, Griner’s pre-trial detention was extended by one month. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Griner’s wife Saturday, conveying that Griner’s case is priority, a senior State Department official confirmed to NBC News.

Abigail Williams contributed.

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