Tara Reade, who accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, defects to Russia

<span>Photograph: Donald Thompson/AP</span>
Photograph: Donald Thompson/AP

Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer who in 2020 accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, said on Tuesday she had defected to Russia.

“I’m still kind of in a daze a bit but I feel very good,” Reade told Sputnik, a Russian press outlet supportive of President Vladimir Putin, while sitting with Maria Butina, a convicted Russian agent jailed in the US but now a member of parliament in Russia.

Related: Who is Tara Reade and what are her allegations against Joe Biden?

“I feel very surrounded by protection and safety,” Reade said.

Now 59, Reade was a staffer for Biden when he was a US senator from Delaware.

In 2020, as Biden ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, she claimed that in 1993, in a Senate corridor, he pushed her against a wall and assaulted her. Biden repeatedly denied the accusation.

At her press appearance in Russia, Reade was described as a “writer and publicist and former aide to Joe Biden”.

Sitting next to Butina, Reade said: “I just really so appreciate Maria and everyone who’s been giving me [protection] at a time when it’s been very difficult to know if I’m safe or not.

“I just didn’t want to walk home and walk into a cage or be killed, which is basically my two choices.”

Reade recently flirted with testifying before US House Republicans seeking to use committees to attack Biden and his family.

The decision to defect to Russia, she told Sputnik, “was very difficult. I’m not an impulsive person. I really take my time and sort of analyse data points.

“And from what I could see based on the cases and based on what was happening and sort of the push for them to not want me to testify, I felt that while [the 2024] election is gearing up and there’s so much at stake, I’m almost better off here and just being safe. My dream is to live in both places, but it may be that I only live in this place and that’s OK.”

Biden is running for re-election. As president, he has helped maintain international support for Ukraine as it fights invading Russian forces.

Reade said: “To my Russian brothers and sisters, I’m sorry right now that American elites are choosing to have such an aggressive stance. Just know that most American citizens do want to be friends and hope that we can have unity again.

“I am enjoying my time in Moscow, and I feel very at home.”