“In my opinion, the White House has the ability to get [Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner] out extremely fast, and they clearly have chosen not to do that,” Reed told NBC News
Trevor Reed, a former marine who spent years in Russian detainment before being released back to the United States in April, publicly condemned the White House’s efforts to bring Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner home.
In an interview with NBC News Now, which aired Tuesday on Hallie Jackson NOW, reporter Hallie Jackson asked Reed if he thought President Joe Biden and the White House were doing enough to get the corporate security director and the WNBA star out of Russia, where they’re currently detained.
“I can’t say 100% of what the White House is or is not doing, that’s obviously not public information,” Reed, 30, replied. “But in my opinion, the White House has the ability to get them out extremely fast, and they clearly have chosen not to do that.”
He added, “So now in my opinion, no, they’re not doing enough.”
Jackson also asked him if he’s frustrated by the White House’s response since Griner was arrested at an airport near Moscow on Feb. 17. “Yeah, that frustrates me that they’re not doing more,” replied Reed.
“The White House, you know, has that position to go out and say, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna make this exchange. We’re gonna get these guys back for this guy.’ And, you know, they have the ability to do that. So why they haven’t already done that, you know, is a little bit beyond me,” he continued. “I can’t understand why you would wait that long to do that.”
Reed returned to the United States in April in an exchange for Russian drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko.
At the time of his return, President Biden said in part in a statement, “The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly. His safe return is a testament to the priority my Administration places on bringing home Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained abroad.”
As Griner’s trial began on July 1 in Russia, The New York Times reported that Russia was hinting at an exchange of Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in 2011.
In his interview with NBC News Now, Reed said, “You know, if it takes letting go of an actual criminal, who has already sat in American prison for I think, almost twenty years you know, that seems like it’s worth it to me.”
Griner faces up to 10 years in prison. Despite her guilty plea, Griner’s trial is expected to continue for several weeks or months.
The two-time Olympic medalist and eight-time WNBA All-Star was arrested in February at the Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow on allegations that she was in possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil while traveling through the airport.
In May, the U.S. State Department classified Griner’s arrest as wrongful detainment.
“The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “The U.S. Government will continue to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner and her family.”[via]