Richardson is helping WNBA star Britney Grinner get out of detention in Russia
In her struggle for freedom from detention in Russia, WNBA star Brittany Greener now has another big name: Bill Richardson, the former US ambassador to the UN.
A spokesman for the Richardson Center confirmed to ABC News that the international hostage negotiator was working on Greener’s case and that his family had asked for his help.
Richardson, a former congressman, secretary of energy and governor of New Mexico, has carried out diplomatic missions to repatriate Americans from Cuba, Iraq and North Korea.
Most recently, he was credited with playing a key role in the release of former US Marine Trevor Reid, who has been held in a Russian prison for more than two years.
Richardson’s direct role in Greener’s case was first reported this week, but he suggested his involvement in an interview with ABC’s Lance Davis after Reed’s release last week.
“The US government is working. On private efforts, we are working. I think Trevor Reed’s initiative will help,” Richardson said on April 27. “Now the Russians want something in return, and what happened is unclear. But she deserves to come home.”
On Tuesday, the 75th day of Greener’s Russian detention, the State Department said it would reclassify her case as “incorrectly positioned,” and that the United States would now play a more active role in negotiating her release.
Department spokeswoman Ned Price said: “We appreciate all those who have invested in this case, and Britney Greener has found a network that has supported her from day one. We have worked closely with that network,” said department spokeswoman Ned Price. Said.
“We often partner with a variety of individuals and organizations in these cases,” Price added. “We welcome all the efforts that have been made in close coordination with us to help secure the release of any American who has been unjustly detained worldwide.”
“We expect the White House to do whatever it takes to get her home,” Greener’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Kolas said in a statement Tuesday.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Greener was visiting Russia to play basketball in the off-season and was arrested in February at an airport in the Moscow region on charges of possessing vapor cartridges containing marijuana oil – an illicit substance in Russia.
According to Russian media reports, she faces drug charges and faces up to 10 years in prison, with her pre-trial detention extended from March to May 19.