Suedi Murekezi, a U.S. Air Force veteran, was freed from Russian-controlled territory in a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Wednesday.

Murekezi’s relatives told the Washington Post he was arrested in June by pro-Russian authorities in the formerly occupied city of Kherson after being wrongly accused of participating in pro-Ukrainian protests.

Kirby, on a conference call with reporters Wednesday, confirmed Murekezi’s release and said: “We welcome the news.”

Murekezi is from Minnesota but has lived in Ukraine since 2018.

He was freed along with 64 soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces who fought in Donetsk and Luhansk, according to Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff.

Ukraine also received four bodies of soldiers killed in action, Yermak said.

In an interview with ABC News published Wednesday, Murekezi said he spent weeks in a basement after he was initially arrested, where he said he was beaten and tortured with electric shocks.

Murekezi said he was then transferred to a prison in Donetsk city, where he spent three months before being released, though he was without his U.S. passport and effectively trapped.

Murekezi’s release comes less than a week after WNBA star Brittney Griner was freed in a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Murekezi had been one of at least three U.S. veterans arrested or captured by Russia or Russian-backed authorities during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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3 months ago

From Minnesota but lives in Ukraine……Hmmm….Sounds like a loyal American……Keep his ass over there, we don’t want him here. We have enough problems with our gov’t that is trying to destroy America. Good job Joe!

3 months ago

We should have Ukraine negotiate for US. Our current negotiators make bad deals.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
3 months ago

Hooray awesome & next Free the Marine