Former New Mexico Democrat Gov. Bill Richardson reportedly is going to attempt to broker a release for WNBA player Brittney Griner and alleged spy Paul Whelan in the next couple of weeks.
The former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Richardson has worked as an independent international negotiator. He will travel to Moscow for talks on securing the release of the two Americans imprisoned in Russia, sources told ABC News on Saturday.
Texas Marine veteran Trevor Reed was returned to America in a prisoner swap earlier this year with the help of Richardson, sources told ABC. Reed was arrested in Russia for public intoxication, having been in the country with his Russian wife to learn the language. He was held almost 2 1/2 years.
Griner has been detained in Russia on drug charges since February, just days before Vladimir Putin commenced the "special military operation" in Ukraine.
"We are unable to comment on this at the moment," Richardson's office told ABC.
"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 Center for Global Engagement Executive Director Mickey Bergman wrote to ABC News in an email.
Griner was stopped at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport by Russian authorities, facing charges of possessing vape cartridges containing hashish oil.
U.S. officials believe Griner was seized in order to hold her as a bargaining chip with the United States, according to the report.
The White House National Security Council (NSC) acknowledged to ABC it has been in contact with Richardson.
"NSC leadership are in touch with Bill Richardson," NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson told ABC in a statement. "We appreciate his commitment to getting Americans home and are pursuing the release of Brittney and Paul through government channels."
Cherelle Griner, her wife, sought Richardson's help, as she has rebuked President Joe Biden for not offering help.
"We asked the Richardson Center to help, and I'm encouraged that he might be going,” Cherelle Griner told ABC through her wife's agent Lindsay Colas.
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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