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Trevor Reed says he thinks Griner and Whelan ‘have a really good chance’ of being released in US’ proposed exchange with Russia

<i>CNN</i><br/>Trevor Reed
Trevor Reed

By Shawna Mizelle

Trevor Reed, an American citizen and former US Marine freed earlier this year after two years imprisoned in Russia, said Wednesday that he thinks detained Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan “have a really good chance” of being released amid revelations the US has presented a “substantial proposal” to Moscow for an exchange.

Reed’s comments follow CNN’s exclusive reporting that the Biden administration — after months of internal debate — has offered to exchange convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout as part of a potential deal to secure the release of Griner and Whelan, according to people briefed on the matter.

“I think that, you know, if the Russians are not stupid then they’ll take that offer,” Reed told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.”

“I think they would be extremely optimistic. I hope that they would be. I hope that they would be cautiously optimistic because there is a lot that goes into those types of things,” he said of Griner and Whelan. “But I think that they have a really good chance, especially considering the transparency that the administration has used in this.”

Reed, who was released in a prisoner swap in April, told his family at the time that he felt “horrible” that other Americans remained held in Russia.

Paula Reed, Trevor’s mother, previously told CNN that following his release, her son said, “‘I don’t understand why I’m here and Paul’s not.’ And he said, ‘and I am not doing well now, but as soon as I get better, I’m going to work on bringing Paul home.'”

The families of Whelan, who has been held by Russia for alleged espionage since 2018, and WNBA star Griner, jailed in Moscow for drug possession since February, have urged the White House to secure their release, including via a prisoner exchange if necessary.

Sources told CNN that the plan to trade Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year US prison sentence, for Whelan and Griner received the backing of President Joe Biden after being under discussion since earlier this year. Biden’s support for the swap overrides opposition from the Department of Justice, which is generally against prisoner trades.

The Russian government has frequently floated Bout as the subject of a potential trade for a number of Americans.

Asked by Tapper why the Biden administration would publicly share details on a possible deal when the prisoner swap involving Reed was largely done in secret, Reed said, “They may be trying to make a point that it is something that’s extremely important to this administration and I’m happy that they are doing that publicly.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted earlier Wednesday that while “sometimes we make judgments that we’re going to keep conversations quiet,” in the case of the detained Americans, he “thought it was important” for Russia to hear directly from him. He said he plans to raise the matter on an expected to call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week — his first with his counterpart in Moscow since the war in Ukraine began.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood, Evan Perez and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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