A famous negotiator will try to free basketball player Brittney Griner

Famous negotiator will try to free basketball player Brittney Griner


The families of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, imprisoned in Russia, have asked private negotiator Bill Richardson to try to obtain their release, the services of this former diplomat confirmed on Monday, of which American media believe knowing that he will be traveling to Moscow soon. 

“What I can say is that the two families, Whelan and Griner, have asked us to help free their loved ones,” Mickey Bergman, vice-president of the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, told AFP, without confirming this press information.

Brittney Griner, international basketball star, has been detained since February in Russia and pleaded guilty to drug smuggling after being arrested in possession of cannabis-based vaping liquid.

Paul Whelan, former security official for an auto parts company, detained since 2018, continues to maintain his innocence after being sentenced to 16 years in prison in Russia for espionage.

Former diplomat and minister, Bill Richarson s has since retrained in the delicate missions to obtain the release of his compatriots detained by “hostile regimes”.

Although he does not act on behalf of the US government, he often works with its tacit agreement.

In particular, he had participated in discussions about another American prisoner in Russia, the former US Marine Trevor Reed, released in April in exchange for Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko.

Accused of delaying action on the Griner case, President Joe Biden recently spoke with the basketball player's wife and assured her of his efforts to “secure Brittney's release as quickly as possible,” according to a White House statement.

He also spoke with Brittney's sister on Friday. Paul Whelan.

The latter's brother, David Whelan, told AFP that Bill Richardson had not been mandated by the Biden administration.

“We hope that the governor (of New Mexico between 2003 and 2011, Editor's note) Richardson will be able to have discussions that are not possible when one is limited to government channels, “he said. he says.