Klobuchar worked closely with Tyler’s family, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to bring him to safety
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar met in Minneapolis with Tyler Jacob, a Minnesota native who was recently released from Russian custody. Jacob, who was detained by Russian forces for 10 days, was safely reunited with his wife and daughter and has now returned to Minnesota. Klobuchar was also joined by Jacob’s mother, Tina Hauser, and Clara Haycraft, Senator Klobuchar’s Deputy State Director who oversees constituent services.
“I got involved in this, of course, when Tina called our office and said that her son, she hadn’t heard from him, from Tyler for several days and that she knew something was wrong,” said Klobuchar. “And at first we didn’t know what was going on and so we started making calls and I had just been in Poland at the border and so I knew a lot of the people…and was able to immediately call them.”
Klobuchar highlighted her efforts working with the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to ensure Tyler’s safety: “We got on the phone with Ambassador Sullivan…and I told him about Tyler's case, and he knew about it, because we've been making all these contacts…And he said he was going to go to meet with the Russians…to plead Tyler's case.”
Jacob thanked Klobuchar and her Deputy State Director, Clara Haycraft for their efforts to bring him to safety: “Thank you very much for all of the hard work you've both put in. You were responding to text messages and emails at 11, 12 o'clock at night,” Jacob said. “I definitely don't believe I would be here if it wasn't for you guys vouching for me.”
“It's just a great joy when he walked in the house and knocked on the door and have him come home after all the communication that I've had…with the senator's office, and I am so indebted to these two women to stand behind us like they did and supported us, to have him home,” said Jacob’s mother Tina Hauser.
Approximately a month ago, Tyler Jacob, originally from Winona, Minnesota, was taken by Russian forces while leaving Ukraine, where he lived with his wife and daughter. He was then detained in Russia and held for 10 days. Klobuchar worked closely with Tyler’s family, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to locate Tyler and help bring him to safety.
Klobuchar’s full remarks are given below. Photos can be downloaded HERE.
Klobuchar: It’s good to see you Tyler, and not just see you on video and zoom calls and the like. And Tina, who’s an incredible mom who stood by her son and made sure that we found him no matter where he was and never gave up. And Clara, talk about never giving up, who is the deputy here in our state office, and is in charge of all of our constituent work and handled way too many cases like this all over the world, including the hiker in Iran, which we won’t get into right now, but I just give you an example of the cases Clara has handled. And she, too, was really excited when you came home, Tyler, and that it was really actually so soon.
And I got involved in this, of course, when Tina called our office and said that her son, she hadn’t heard from him, from Tyler for several days and that she knew something was wrong. And this was of course at the beginning of the war in Ukraine, relatively in the beginning. And at first we didn’t know what was going on and so we started making calls and I had just been in Poland at the border and so I knew a lot of the people, and had been in Ukraine two weeks before so knew the people in charge of our embassy, the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, who had now moved over to Poland. So they moved their staff right to the Polish border.
And I had been meeting with them for over an hour, had dinner with the person in charge there the night before and was able to immediately call them even though, from the facts that Tina had, Tyler was under Russian custody as far as we knew, but I found a good place to begin, which was our Ukrainian friends. So we talked to the Ambassador and the charge d'affaires, and then there was another guy that I met who was in charge of our work in Krakow, and so he had been in Moscow at our embassy for years and so then he called for us and then I called our ambassador there, with Tina calling 10 times the number of times that I called.
And got on the phone, at Clara’s urging, meanwhile, Clara was working all her contacts, and Tina was doing everything she could. And we got on the phone with Ambassador Sullivan. And I think a lot of people are surprised to know that we have an ambassador in Moscow right now, but we do. And so I told him about Tyler's case, and he knew about it, because we've been making all these contacts. And he'd actually been seen, I said, I asked him if he'd seen the video. And he had, and the video was something the Russians put out, which in which they tried to show they were really humanitarian, and they showed Tyler talking about it was a very strange thing. But, and I don't think it made a lot of splash, but that's why they've done it.
And so he said that he believed you were in custody, because we were trying to figure everything out. And he said he was going to go to meet with the Russians on Monday, this was on a Friday, and that he was going to plead Tyler's case. He also told me, and this was subsequently reported in the press, that the Russians were mad about a number of things. And so he was going over there to meet with them. I actually raised the issue if we want to get Tyler in the middle of this international argument about war criminals. And he said he thought it was a good idea. I said, okay, because I didn't want to make things worse for you, honestly.
And then he also, I believe, must have raised other issues of Americans in custody because short, and this part, I don't really know the details. But shortly after that, Griner, the basketball player, who's unbelievably still held, had a humanitarian visit the next day, or the two days after that, and then Tyler got released, and I'll let him tell that part of the story.
But so that was our perspective. And I mostly just want to thank Clara for never giving up and figuring out all the best ways to do things because what we didn't want to have happen was them focusing so much on your case that it became a thing and they weren't going to let you go. So we were trying to find some kind of a middle ground between calling attention to it, but then making it some kind of cause celebre for them wanting to keep you in custody. And we know that Tyler was over there doing good work teaching English, in love and married and everything else, so he had a pretty good story we could share with the embassy and a good case that we could make for why he was over there, we don't always have that in all cases. And so we were able to make that case. And then he got released.
And the next thing we knew we heard from Tina, that you talked to each other on Zoom, right. And then Clara heard that he had arrived safely in another country, and that our embassy actually had met you there, right. And so and then the next thing we know, we see the video of Tina greeting him at the door, which is on CNN. And so that was actually a really amazing moment. And then we got to talk on the phone the next morning.
So I just mostly want to thank the family, for both your mom and dad, Tina and John for the work they did, in really talking about this in an appropriate way so that we didn't hit that ground of making it such a thing or the words that you use, that they decided not to release you.
That was our first goal. And our second goal was to, of course, bring you home. And so I want to thank the family. I want to thank everyone in the State Department when they're in the middle of dealing with the atrocities in Ukraine with refugees streaming in, having been there at the border and seeing the work we're doing. There's so many Americans that were in Ukraine that have been reaching out to our office, and certainly working with the State Department, many of them are in safe places now. But then they want to come back to America or they have spouses they want to bring back. So there's a lot of that going on with the consular services part of the State Department.
At the same time, the obvious, that we're doing everything to help Ukraine. And the latest atrocities that we have seen are unbelievable with the reports that in Mariupol, that potentially 50,000 civilians have been reportedly killed. Obviously, those numbers aren't verified. But it appears that the numbers are very, very high. The reports that we have people, that are bodies are being discovered all the time in the suburbs surrounding Kyiv, and the movement not to withdraw but to consolidate the forces is the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine, which I once visited with Senator McCain, is also very disturbing. And I don't think they're in any way reducing their forces. I think that they are simply consolidating them in one part of Ukraine. And that's what all the intelligence shows that they're doing with convoys of tanks and other things going to eastern Ukraine. And we all saw the horror at the train station just a few days ago, where over 50 people were killed in Eastern Ukraine.
And so our job right now is to send them the weapons that they need, including more, switchblade drones, which, you know, not all of this is revealed for intelligence purposes of what we're sending them, they've been very effective. More stingers, more javelins, more help with humanitarian aid in helping with the refugees in the areas around. To give you a sense of a country that hasn't gotten a lot of focus, Moldova, one of the poorest countries in the region, been taking in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, that's one for every 25 people, that would be like 13 million refugees suddenly coming to the U.S., if you look at it, population wise.
So there's a lot of people in the world that are standing up and helping and I'm glad that our country is taking the lead. But I want to make very clear this is far from over. And one of the things when you're dealing with someone like Vladimir Putin is you can't stand down. You keep having to stand up and move forward. And that's what we're doing in this fight against evil. But in a moment of joy, we’re going to focus on Tyler and the work that Tina did in getting you home. So take it from here.
Hauser: It's just a great joy when he walked in the house and knocked on the door and have him come home after all the struggles and communication that I've had to do with the senator's office, and I am so indebted to these two women to stand behind us like they did and supported us to have him home.
Klobuchar: I bet one of the things that's hard is that, you know, when it first happened, you're just so happy and stunned and everything. And then as the days go by, it kind of sets in and you see the atrocities where he might have been if he had come home. Yeah, that's what I thought about that a lot, is just how you're here. It's not like staying in time, if you would have been there now, what could have happened? And that's why we're continuing to work to get Americans our country is including prisons and everywhere, because it's just a really, really risky situation. Thank you. And I think you notice what happened with that.
Jacob: I also want to tell you guys, thank you very much for all of the hard work you've both put in. You were responding to text messages and emails at 11, 12 o'clock at night, so sleepless hours for you, as well as me from where I was. This means a lot especially from both of us.I definitely don't believe I would be here if it wasn't for you guys vouching for me, because they thought I was fine.
Klobuchar: So no, I remember that. That was the one thing we explained, why you were there and what you were doing, and I'm sure somehow they were able to make the case that you weren't as bad.
Jacob: So I know on Thursday, they were like, Yeah, we know that you're just in a bad situation. They actually, the guy that was talking to me, showed me a picture of his six month old baby, so I was like in the clear.
Klobuchar: Why the thing? And then you got on the train? That's right. 32 hours from where he was held, went through to Moscow. So in a weird way, you were going more to the heart of Russia, right? Well because he was in Russian custody. Yeah. And they weren't, it would have been easier to just send him through to, you would think, he would just go through to Ukraine to Poland or something. But this is what they wanted. So he was on a Russian train there. Tyler, where were you being held or are you allowed to say that?
Jacob: I was in Simferopol, which is like the capital city of Crimea. It’s the highest populated city in Crimea.
Klobuchar: And so then he takes a train to Moscow.
Jacob: And a four and a half hour flight from Moscow.
Klobuchar: Yeah. It sounds like a movie that could have ended bad, like at the train station. So you went to Moscow.
Reporter: And then where'd you go to get out of Russia? Where’d you wind up?
Jacob: So I went to Istanbul, to then fly home. Okay, because it's like the center of Europe and you can fly anywhere from there.
Klobuchar: And there's a lot of Ukrainians going to Turkey. In fact, that's where you were originally trying to go on the bus. Yeah, right. Yeah. And they were actually going to try a different route.
Jacob: Yeah, less enjoyable.