Exclusive: Trevor Reed details horrific survival conditions in Russian psychiatric treatment facility

You can watch Jake Tapper’s exclusive interview with Trevor Reed in a CNN special: “Home at Last: The Trevor Reed Interview,” on CNN and CNN International on Sunday, May 22 at 8 p.m. ET.

“In the psychiatric treatment facility, I was there with seven other prisoners in a cell. They all had serious psychological health issues – most of them. So over 50% of them in this cell were there for murder. Or, like, multiple murders, sexual assaults, and murders — just really disturbed individuals,” Reed told CNN’s Jake Tapper in a newly released clip from CNN’s upcoming special report, “Home at Last. : the interview with Trevor Reed”, which will be broadcast on Sunday evening.

“And inside that cell, you know, it wasn’t a good place,” he added.

“There was blood all over the walls there — where prisoners had committed suicide, or killed other prisoners, or attempted to,” Reed continued. “The toilet is just a hole in the floor. And there’s, you know, shit everywhere, all over the floor, on the walls. There’s also people in there walking around looking like zombie.”

In the clip, which aired on CNN’s “New Day” Friday morning, Reed said he hadn’t slept for a few days for fear of what the people in his cell might do to him.

“Did you feel they might kill you?” Tapper asked, to which Reed replied, “Yeah. I thought that was a possibility.”

Reed said he believed he was sent to the facility as punishment for his continued efforts to appeal his conviction. His return to the United States late last month ended a nearly three-year ordeal.

The former US Marine was sentenced to nine years in prison in July 2020 after being accused of endangering “the life and health” of Russian police officers during an altercation the previous year. Reed and his family have denied the charges against him.

Eventually, Reed was returned to the United States in a prisoner exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian smuggler convicted of conspiracy to import cocaine. The United States commuted his sentence.

Behind the scenes, officials inside and outside the US government had worked for years to secure Reed’s release. Last month’s exchange, an administration official told CNN, was the culmination of “months and months of painstaking work within the U.S. government” that took place amid growing tensions between Washington and Moscow – dramatically exacerbated by Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine. .

It’s the combination of factors around Reed’s case — including the urgent need to address his deteriorating health in prison, his family’s ongoing activism that led to a meeting with Biden, and the situation in Ukraine — which led to Biden authorizing the swap for Yaroshenko, a source told CNN last month.

“I wouldn’t let myself be hoped”

Reed told Tapper he felt like he would never return to the United States, saying he was not convinced he would ever get out of Russian prison.

“And a lot of people aren’t going to like what I’m going to say about that, but I kind of see their – having hope as a weakness,” he said. So I didn’t want to have this hope, like, me, you know, of somehow being released and then being taken away from me.”

“You deprived yourself of hope?” asked Taper.

“Yeah,” Reed said. “I wouldn’t let myself be hoped.”

But Reed’s relatives in the United States remained hopeful throughout his imprisonment.

Reed’s family is the only relative of a detained inmate in Russia to have met with President Joe Biden to plead their case. And they say that meeting was crucial in bringing Reed home.

“We believe it was this meeting with the president that made this possible,” Joey Reed, Trevor’s father, said last month. Trevor’s mother, Paula, also called the reunion a “tipping point.”

Reed and her family have vowed to continue their activism and fight for Americans illegally detained overseas.

Two other Americans, Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, are still being held in Russia.

A senior administration official told CNN last month that he doesn’t necessarily see Reed’s successful repatriation as translating into momentum for Whelan and Griner’s cases, but said the U.S. government will continue to do so. pressure for their release and that the channel for potential exchanges would remain open.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Saturday with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner.

According to a senior State Department official, the top US diplomat said Griner’s release was a top priority for the department and had its full attention.

Griner’s family, in a statement obtained by CNN, said they were “grateful when Secretary Blinken took his recent call with Cherelle and looks forward to his face-to-face meeting with the President.”

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to indicate that Trevor Reed’s parents are the only relatives of a Russian-held detainee who have met with President Joe Biden.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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