Suedi Murekezi, a Rwandan-born U.S. national who has lived in Ukraine since 2018 and was taken by pro-Russian forces in Kherson in June, was among a group of more than 60 soldiers, four of whom had been killed, in the swap on Wednesday.
“Another POWs swap. 64 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who fought in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, are going home,” Yermak said on Twitter. “Also, we managed to free a US citizen who helped our people–Suedi Murekezi. And we got home bodies of four KIAs.”
Murekezi’s brother, Sele, hadn’t heard from his brother for about a month when he received a call from Suedi on July 7 and he told his brother he was being imprisoned in Donetsk, according to the Guardian. Suedi Murekezi said he was being falsely accused of having participated in pro-Ukrainian protests.
Suedi Murekezi said he was being held in the same jail as Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, two Americans who had also been captured by Russian forces, though they had been actively fighting with Ukrainians. Both men were freed in September.
The Biden administration has repeatedly advised Americans not to travel to Ukraine, while Ukrainian leaders, at the beginning of the war, urged foreigners from across the globe to take up arms in defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty.