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USAF vet freed in Ukraine-Russia prisoner swap – media

Suedi Murekezi had reportedly been taken into Russian custody in June

A US national has been freed from Russian custody in a prisoner swap with Ukraine, the White House said. Both Kiev and American media have identified him as Rwanda-born US Air Force veteran Suedi Murekezi.

The news about Murekezi was broken by Andrey Yermak, chief-of-staff for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. The American man was included in the latest POW exchange with Russia, the official tweeted on Wednesday. According to Yermak, Kiev received 64 Ukrainian soldiers as part of the deal.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby confirmed that an American citizen has been freed but declined to identify him, citing privacy concerns.

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A Russian soldier patrolling the streets of Kherson on May 20, 2022, Kherson, Ukraine
US national held in DPR custody – media

Several US media outlets have also confirmed his release. ABC News reported that its correspondent was present at the exchange and had spoken to Murekezi right after it.

The released detainee’s brother Sele told The Washington Post that his sibling had been partially freed in October but had remained on parole, restricted from leaving Russian-controlled territory. ABC News claimed he could not leave because he did not have his American passport and was effectively “trapped.”

The Russian side has so far not commented on the exchange.

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According to Western media, Murekezi was born in Rwanda though his family fled to the US after the 1994 genocide there. The press said he had served in the US Air Force for eight years before retiring in 2017. A Minnesota resident, he reportedly moved to Ukraine due to its relaxed regulation of cryptocurrencies, in which he was interested. According to Murekezi’s family, he was taken into Russian custody in June in the city of Kherson.

December 15, 2022 at 04:19PM
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