Former Gov. Bill Richardson In Moscow, Brittney Griner Prisoner Swap Expectations Rise

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) and a small team traveled to Moscow this week to meet with Russian officials presumably to raise the level of negotiations over WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan

Sources told CNN on Wednesday that Richardson was in Russia to meet with Moscow officials, though they would not specifically confirm the purpose of the visit.

Richardson’s visit comes as the Biden administration is negotiating with Russian diplomats on a possible prisoner exchange of Griner and Whalen. The U.S. government has classified Griner as "wrongfully detained."

A former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richardson has been involved in bringing home U.S. residents detained in foreign countries. He played a key role in securing the release of former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed after being detained in Russia for more than two years. 

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken communicated in early August with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the prisoner swap, which is meant to include Griner and Whelan for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout

Another Element In The Prisoner Swap?

In more recent reports, Russian criminal mastermind Alexander Vinnik, accused of laundering more than $4 billion through the digital currency bitcoin (BTC/USD), was mentioned as another individual to potentially be included in the prisoner swap. Vinnik was extradited last month to the U.S. to face money laundering charges.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalistwas arrested at an airport in Moscow on Feb. 17 for possessing less than a gram of cannabis oil in her baggage. Russian invaded the Ukraine seven days later.

Like other female athletes who play abroad during the off-season for extra income, Griner had been playing on a Russian team for the past seven years.

Griner was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony on August 4. Shortly after, her Russian legal team appealed the sentence.

Photo: Pixabay by Pexels and Wikipedia

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Posted In: CannabisNewsPoliticsMarketsGeneralBill RichardsonBrittney GrinerPrisoner swapRussia
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