Who is Konstantin Yaroshenko, the Russian freed from prison in US exchange?

Amidgrowing tensions between Moscow and the West, the US and Russia have agreed to a prisoner exchange in an unprecedented diplomatic move.

Moscow have agreed to release US citizen Trevor Reed in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko’s release. Here’s what we know about the unfolding deal.

Who is Konstantin Yaroshenko?

Konstantin Yaroshenko is a Russian pilot who has been serving a 20-year sentence in the United States for drug trafficking.

In 2010, Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia over trafficking crimes, including conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States. According to The Guardian’s report, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had been looking to build a case against Yaroshenko since June 2009. They believe Konstantin Yaroshenko, now 53, was responsible for transporting contraband goods internationally.

Yaroshenko has been held at a federal prison in Connecticut since his extradition to the US. His sentence has now been commuted, with Yaroshenko having served the majority of it in federal prison.

US and Russia engage in a prisoner swap

On April 27th, 2022, it was reported a deal between the US and Russia had been struck. The two countries have been vying for the release of Trevor Reed and Konstantin Yaroshenko for years.

The Russian foreign ministry said the exchange of Reed and Yaroshenko was the result of a “long negotiation process,” writes The Guardian.

Trevor Reed was jailed for nine years in Russia in 2020 on charges of assaulting a police officer while drunk at a Moscow party in 2019, CBS News states.

He was tried and convicted over the charges, but Reed has maintained his innocence. The US government previously has said he was wrongfully imprisoned.

The White House speaks on Trevor Reed’s return

The White House released a statement on the US-Russian prisoner exchange. President Joe Biden spoke on the release of Trevor Reed.

“Today, we welcome home Trevor Reed and celebrate his return to the family that missed him dearly,” President Biden said in the statement, as reported by Reuters.

Reed’s parents said that the exchange happened in Turkey.

In other news, Why was Trevor Reed in Russia? Ex-US Marine released in prisoner swap