US Prisoners Stranded In Russia
(PatriotWise.com) – Last month, former US ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian officials in hopes of negotiating the release of WNBA player Brittney Griner.
In August, Griner was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. Griner maintains that she made “an honest mistake” when she brought the vape cartridges through the airport.
Richardson, the founder of the nonprofit the Richardson Center and a prominent figure in previous hostage negotiations, met with Russian officials on September 13.
However, at the time, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that any such meetings with Richardson took place, telling Reuters that he had nothing to discuss on the subject.
It is unlikely that Richardson’s initial meetings would have involved any high-ranking Kremlin officials, according to former US intelligence officer Rebekah Koffler, an expert on Russia and Putin, since most high-ranking officials are focusing on the war in Ukraine.
While the Richardson Center would not comment on the September meetings, it did reiterate that the former UN ambassador has secured prisoner releases in the past “in both official and unofficial capacities.”
Earlier this month, Richardson told CNN that he was “cautiously optimistic” that he could secure the release of both Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who is also being held in Russia, by the end of this year.
In an interview two weeks ago, Richardson told CNN that in his September 13 visit to Moscow, he met with senior Russian officials and people close to Vladimir Putin. He suggested that a negotiated deal would likely include exchanging two Russian prisoners for Griner and Whelan.
The Biden administration, however, has distanced itself from Richardson’s efforts, saying recently that private citizens cannot negotiate on behalf of the United States government.
In a column last week at 19FortyFive.com, Harrison Kass examined the likelihood Richardson’s efforts will work.
Read Kass’ column HERE.
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