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Report: Former New Mexico Governor to Negotiate Brittney Griner Deal with Russia

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 10, 2022

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is reportedly planning a trip to Russia as he seeks to negotiate a deal for the release of Brittney Griner.

Patrick Reevell of ABC News reported Richardson plans to be in Moscow within the next couple of weeks. Richardson previously worked on the release of former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was held in a Russian prison for more than two years.

Griner has been detained in Russia on drug charges since February after authorities found hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo International Airport. She pleaded guilty to those charges last week and could face up to 10 years in prison.

"We asked the Richardson Center to help, and I'm encouraged that he might be going," Cherelle Griner, Brittney's wife, told ABC in a statement made through Griner's agent Lindsay Colas.

The U.S. State Department has categorized Griner as being "wrongfully detained." Her best hope of a release is likely through a prisoner exchange, similar to the deal made for Reed in April.

Richardson is also representing former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia for more than three years.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to Cherelle Griner on Wednesday after Brittney sent a letter to the White House asking for assistance.

"The President called Cherelle to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney's release as soon as possible," the White House said in a statement. "The President offered his support to Cherelle and Brittney's family, and he committed to ensuring they are provided with all possible assistance while his administration pursues every avenue to bring Brittney home."

Richardson, who served as an Ambassador to the United Nations during the Bill Clinton administration, does not work for the White House.

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