Moscow Slams Senate Call to Free U.S. Prisoners in Russia, Says Look at Your Own Problems

Moscow has hit back at the U.S. Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee after it reiterated American calls for the release of two Marine Corp veterans imprisoned in Russia.

Trevor Reed, 30, and Paul Whelan, 51, have been detained in Russia for around two years on charges their families and U.S. officials say were fabricated in order to seize them as bargaining chips.

Their cases were brought up during the Geneva summit in June between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

On Thursday, the Foreign Affairs Committee announced it had approved two resolutions calling for the release of the pair "who remain wrongfully imprisoned in Russia.

"As @POTUS said last week, the U.S. government will not stop fighting for their freedom," a tweet from the committee's account said.

Paul Whelan, an American accused of spying
Paul Whelan at a court in Moscow on August 23, 2019. The U.S. foreign affairs committee has passed resolutions calling for the release of him and Trevor Reed, 30, both Americans, from Russian prisons. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty

However, Russia's embassy in Washington, DC criticized what it described as "anti-Russian resolutions in the U.S. Congress."

In a statement on its Facebook page, the mission said that "tens of thousands of U.S. citizens face inhumane treatment here every day and are deprived from access to adequate medical care."

"Our compatriots found themselves in the same exact situation," the statement said, "maybe it's time for parliamentarians to address problems within their own country?"

The end of the Facebook statement said "#FreeViktorBout #FreeKonstantinYaroshenko #FreeRomanSeleznev."

Bout, an arms dealer, Yaroshenko, a drug smuggler and Seleznev, a hacker, are all serving lengthy prison terms in the U.S.

There have been reports of a possible swap being considered involving Whelan for Bout and Yaroshenko, Radio Free Europe reported. Putin is said to have opened the door to such a move and those conversations about it would continue, the Associated Press reported.

Whelan, of Michigan, was arrested in a Moscow hotel room in December 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage. His lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said in December 2020 that a prisoner exchange, rather than appealing the sentence, would be the best path to freedom for his client.

Reed, from Texas, was given a nine-year sentence after he was accused of assaulting police officers taking him to a police station in the Russian capital after picking him up from a party where he had been drinking.

Last month, Moscow City Court rejected Reed's appeal of his sentence as the U.S. had tried to secure his release on the grounds that the evidence against him was weak.

U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan said after the hearing that the U.S. would continue fighting for Reed's release.

Reed has been moved to a prison camp in Mordovia, about 350 miles from Moscow, ABC News reported. Whelan has already spent nearly a year in a camp in the same region, which has a high number of prisons.