Bill Richardson visits Moscow amid Griner, Whelan detentions

Bill Richardson
FILE – Former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson speaks to reporters after a news conference in New York, Nov. 16, 2021. Richardson, who has worked to secure the releases of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan, visited Moscow this week and held meetings with Russian leaders. That’s according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday night, Sept. 13, 2022.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) is visiting Moscow to meet with Russian officials amid the high-profile detentions of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whalen. 

Sources told CNN on Wednesday that Richardson and a small team traveled to the Russian capital to meet with Moscow officials, though they would not confirm the purpose of the visit.  

Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been at the forefront of bringing U.S. residents back home, playing a key role in securing the release of Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine who returned to U.S. soil after being detained in Russia for more than two years, CNN reported. 

Reed’s release was a part of a prisoner exchange for a Russian national who was jailed in the U.S. for drug trafficking charges. 

A spokesperson for Richardson told The Hill on Wednesday they are “unable to comment” at this time.

Richardson’s visit comes as the Biden administration is currently negotiating with Russian counterparts on the releases of both Griner and Whalen. 

Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, has been held in detainment by Russian authorities since February and is accused of having vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage. 

The 31-year-old basketball star pleaded guilty to carrying cannabis cartridges, saying she packed them in her suitcase by mistake and had no criminal intent. A Russian court sentenced her to nine years in prison

Griner, a member of the WNBA’s 25th anniversary team, appealed her initial prison sentence last month. 

Whelan, who was detained by authorities in 2018 on espionage charges, which he has denied, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020.

Tags Bill Richardson Bill Richardson Brittney Griner Brittney Griner Brittney Griner detention Moscow Paul Whalen Paul Whelan Russia The Biden Administration Trevor Reed
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