Trevor Reed, a U.S. Marine from Fort Worth who was recently released from a Russian prison after 2 1/2 years, details his experience in an interview with CNN that airs Sunday.
Russian police accused Reed, 30, of assaulting an officer in August 2019 while visiting Russia. The investigation and trial have been discredited by U.S. officials.
For more than two years, he was held in a prison camp in Mordovia, about 350 miles southeast of Moscow.
Last month, Reed was released in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal prison sentence in Connecticut for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
Reed told a Russian court that he knew pleading guilty may result in a shorter sentence, but he thought it would be unethical and immoral to plead guilty to a crime he didn’t commit, he tells CNN’s Jake Tapper in the interview.
“If I’m going to be given a prison sentence, I would rather stay in prison an honest man than walk away tomorrow a liar and a coward,” he said.
Reed said he was ready to sit in prison for 10 years or 20 years if he needed to.
Reed said he wants Americans to be aware that more American citizens are being held as prisoners in Russian, and they need to be released at all costs.
Paul Whelan, also a former Marine, was detained at a Moscow hotel in 2018 and later convicted on espionage charges. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison, and is currently being held in a high-security prison eight hours southeast of Moscow.
The full interview airs Sunday at 7 p.m.