Former Gov. Bill Richardson Traveling To Moscow To Discuss Brittney Griner, Is A Deal In The Works?

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says he’s planning to travel to Russia in the near future in the hope of striking a deal to free WNBA superstar Brittney Griner who is now nearing five months of detention in a Russian jail.  

An anonymous source told ABC News that Richardson is expected to go to Moscow in the next couple of weeks.

Richardson played a role in the April prisoner exchange of former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed who’d spent nearly two and a half years in detention in Russia.

Another Prisoner Exchange?

Russia has hinted that it is interested in trading Griner for Russian nationals being held in U.S. prisons, especially Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Richardson’s possible trip is raising hopes that a deal could be in the works, especially after last week’s admission of guilt on Griner’s part. Sources say that a prisoner exchange can only happen once the trial has been wrapped up.

Though Richardson’s office said they were unable to comment on the possible trip, Mickey Bergman, executive director at the Richardson Center for Global Engagement told ABC in an email: “What I can say (and is publicly known) is both the Whelan and Griner families have asked us to help with the release of their loved ones.” 

Richardson, who has a long history of working to free Americans detained overseas, is representing the Griner and Whelan families. Paul Whelan, a former marine arrested in Moscow in 2018, was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 16 years of hard labor.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained on February 17 at a Moscow airport for possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her suitcase, a charge that carries ten years in prison.

Last week, Griner pleaded guilty to the charge, saying she’d brought the vape cartridges into Russia unintentionally and that did not mean to leave them in her bag.

The Biden administration has said it is committed to negotiating with Russia for Griner’s release but it has refused to comment on whether it is considering a prisoner swap.

Photo courtesy of Mike Schinkel and УГМК by Commons

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsEurozonePoliticsSportsMarketsGeneralABC NewsBiden AdministrationBrittney GrinerFormer New Mexico Gov. Bill RichardsonMickey BergmanMoscowOlympic gold medalistPaul Whelanprisoner exchangeRussiaTrevor ReedUNViktor Bout
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