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In Height of Russia-Ukraine War, Biden Swaps Prisoner with Moscow

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Joe Biden

Although Russia and the United States are not coming to many agreements, a prisoner exchange has been coordinated.  “Russia has exchanged jailed American Trevor Reed for a Russian pilot held in a U.S. prison in a rare example of cooperation between the two countries amid the confrontation over Moscow’s war in Ukraine” reports Bloomberg.

30-year-old Reed is a former U.S. Marine was serving nine years in prison after being convicted in 2020 of assaulting two police officers. Reed was swapped for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot jailed in 2011 for 20 years for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. after he was seized in a sting operation in Liberia.

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke early Wednesday with Reed’s parents, who expressed their relief and joy, and the former Marine was able to call his family from a government plane en route to the U.S., according to a person familiar with the discussions. Biden had earlier commuted Yaroshenko’s sentence as part of the exchange, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters Wednesday.

“The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly,” Biden said in a statement. Biden had raised the cases of Reed and another jailed American, Paul Whelan, at his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva last year, telling reporters later that “I’m not going to walk away” from them.

Reed was detained in 2019 and had charges against him denied. He the went on hunger strike to protest conditions in jail last year, his family said. The U.S. insists Reed was unfairly convicted, unlike Yaroshenko.

Bloomberg reports:

Russian TV footage showed Reed walking unsteadily as armed Russian police officers bundled him onto a plane at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.

Reed’s deteriorating health added urgency to efforts to secure his release, a senior Biden administration official said. Whelan remains in Russian custody.

Reed’s family thanked Biden for “the decision to bring Trevor home.” In a statement released through a spokesperson, they said: “The president’s action may have saved Trevor’s life.”

The exchange took place in Turkey. “Reed and Yaroshenko arrived at almost exactly the same time in Turkey. Teams on the ground on both sides confirmed the identities of the person the other country was offering, then Yaroshenko and Reed were walked across the tarmac to the other plane.”

The negotiations over Reed and Yaroshenko were strictly limited to the prisoner exchange and “not part of a broader discussion with the Russian Federation,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in an interview with MSNBC.

“We didn’t seek that. We aren’t seeking that,” Price said.

Bloomberg adds that U.S. officials are hopeful Reed’s release could open the door for other Americans detained or having legal issues in Russia such as WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner, who has been detained for allegedly possessing vape cartridges containing hash oil.

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1 Comment

  1. Stephane

    April 28, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    It really costs nothing to bring back Americans from foreign jails!
    The DEMON RATS are hoping to convert some votes for them, by doing that!

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education

Columbia alumni are also anti-Israel, threaten to withhold $77 million in donations

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Screen Shot 2024 05 01 at 1.45.06 PM

2,000 people claiming to be Columbia University alumni have signed a letter pledging to “withhold all financial, programmatic, and academic support” from the institution until it meets the demands of anti-Israel protesters. The result is $77 million in donations is at risk.

National Review reports that the letter, addressed to Columbia president Minouche Shafik and the school’s trustees, expresses support for the protesters who oppose the university’s “continued collaboration with the Israeli government’s ongoing genocidal violence against Palestinians.”

“The movement for Palestinian liberation, on campus and globally, is often led by Jewish people of many nations,” the letter says. “Weaponizing claims about antisemitism to silence student speech is based on faulty logic, harms Jewish students, and distracts from true antisemitism, including the attempts by a craven American right to tokenize, exploit, and appropriate Jewish trauma and resilience.”

There does not appear to be a process to verify that people who sign the letters are, in fact, Columbia alumni. It allows people to sign anonymously.

The letter condemns the “administration’s brutal repression of student speech and assembly,” specifically president Shafik’s decision to call in the New York Police Department Strategic Response Group on protesters. Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters were arrested at Columbia and at the City College of New York on April 30, including some who barricaded themselves inside a campus admissions building.

Signatories of the letter are pledging to withhold donations until the university meets 13 demands, including: that it divests from companies that “fund or profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and occupation of Palestine”; calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war; removes Shafik as president; bans the NYPD from campus; and drops charges against student activists, reverses disciplinary measures against them, and finances the healthcare for students who were “brutalized” by the police.

The website where the letter is shared claims that the signatories have previously provided over $67 million in financial contributions to Columbia, and that over $77 million in donations are now at risk.

The letter also claims that the university “failed to hold accountable the former Israeli soldiers who carried out a chemical attack on protesting students in January 2024.” That seems to be a reference to an incident involving anti-Israel protesters who told the student-run Columbia Spectator that during a demonstration earlier this year they were sprayed with “skunk,” a chemical developed by the Israeli Defense Forces.

While this letter is from supporters of the anti-Israel protesters, Columbia has also received pushback from opponents who say the school is allowing protesters to break the law, disrupt the educational environment, and harass Jewish students, adds National Review.

On Monday, 13 federal judges sent a letter to Columbia leaders saying they will no longer hire the school’s students as clerks due to their behavior and the school’s mismanagement of anti-Israel protests, writing that “Columbia has disqualified itself from educating the future leaders of our country.”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a Columbia alumnus, said in April that he would withhold donations from the university due to the anti-Israel protests.

“I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country,” Kraft said in a statement. “I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff and I am not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken.”

 

 

 

 

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