SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KXAN) — The first photos are out Thursday of Marine veteran Trevor Reed’s return to the United States after his release from Russian detention in a prison exchange between the two countries.
Rep. August Pfluger, R-San Angelo, tweeted four pictures of him meeting with Reed. The photos show the 30-year-old Texas native wearing a mask while standing next to the Congressman as well as his family members. NBC News confirmed Reed landed at Kelly Field in San Antonio just after 12:30 a.m.
“This is the moment we have all been praying for,” Pfluger tweeted. “WELCOME HOME, Trevor Reed!”
Reed’s parents live in Granbury, Texas, which is in Pfluger’s sprawling Congressional district that extends from west Texas near Odessa to an area southwest of Dallas. In an interview Thursday with KXAN, Pfluger described what it was like to witness this moment, see Reed in person and get a chance to speak with him.
“It was an incredible moment,” Pfluger said. “It was a joyful reunion for his family for Trevor to touch down after 985 days and be on American soil. A lot of work has gone into this. It’s been a bipartisan effort.”
Pfluger said they all wore masks at the reunion with Reed because of concerns about his health after being held for such a prolonged time in Russia. He said that likely contributed to President Joe Biden’s decision to move forward with negotiations for Reed’s release.
“One can imagine just how terrible the conditions are in a Russian gulag, like he was in,” Pfluger said. “We don’t know any specifics, but we’re very concerned about his health, and we want to make sure that’s attended to. The first priority is his wellbeing right now.”
Jonathan Franks, a Reed family spokesperson, said on Twitter Thursday, “Trevor is getting his health needs taken care of. He’s not available for media.”
Reed was swapped in Turkey on Wednesday for Konstantin Yaroshenko, who had been serving a 20-year prison sentence in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy case.
Russian authorities arrested Reed in 2019 after they said he assaulted a Moscow officer while being driven by police to a police station. He was later sentenced to nine years in prison.
The U.S. government described him as unjustly detained and pressed for his release. His family shared concerns about his declining health, which they said included coughing up blood and a hunger strike.
Gov. Greg Abbott welcomed Reed home in a message posted to his personal Twitter account Wednesday.
“Texas is beyond relieved that Trevor will return home to his family in Fort Worth,” Abbott wrote. “Thank you to the Texas delegation for working to secure his release.”
Two Americans, Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, remain detained in Russia, and many are wondering about what’s being done to secure their releases.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn told KXAN he spoke on the phone Thursday with America’s ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, who’s responsible for monitoring the conditions under which Whelan and Griner are being detained.
“We’ll continue to advocate, just as we did for Trevor, for the release of these two Americans from this Russian prison,” Cornyn said, “but unfortunately they are just trade bait for Putin. He doesn’t enter into these negotiations out of a sense of justice or compassion. He’s looking for leverage and something to get for what he gives.”
Both Cornyn and Pfluger said they question whether this exchange for Reed’s release will change the nature of the relationship between the U.S. and Russia given that the Americans are heavily supporting Ukraine in the invasion happening there.