U.S. Negotiator ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Griner Will Be Released By Year’s End

Former Gov. Bill Richardson traveled to Moscow last month to meet with Russian officials and discuss the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
Photo by Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Bill Richardson, the former governor and diplomat, expressed confidence on Sunday that American basketball star Brittney Griner will be released from Russian custody before the end of the year.

In an interview on CNN, Richardson said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the release of both Griner and Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen who has been held in Russian prison since 2018 on espionage charges.

“I do think so. Now, I hate making predictions, but yes,” Richardson said when asked whether the two Americans will be released before the end of 2022.

Richardson, who previously served as governor of New Mexico and as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has extensive experience negotiating on behalf of families of hostages and detainees.

“I know (the families are) very emotional and this is a very emotional time. All I can say is that the Biden administration is working hard on it,” Richardson said Sunday on CNN. “So am I. We coordinate, but not always agree on every tactical decision. But I’m not going to interfere in their process. I’m just giving you my assessment after two visits to Russia on behalf of American hostages.”

Griner, a star for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, has been held in a Russian prison since February after being arrested in a Moscow airport on drug charges (officials found cannabis oil in her luggage).

In August, Griner was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court.

She plans to appeal the conviction, and a hearing has been set for October 25.

The U.S. considers both Griner and Whelan to be “wrongfully detained.” The Biden administration has negotiated a prisoner swap with Moscow, with the U.S. offering to release Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States, in exchange for the release of Griner and Whelan.

Russia has reportedly rejected that offer.

On Sunday, Richardson suggested that the Russians could be amenable to a deal.

“I got the sense that the Russian officials that I met with, that I’ve known over the years, are ready to talk,” Richardson said on CNN. “I got a good sense from the Russians – the vibrations – but I’m not a government official.”

“I’m not part of the government, the government channel. I’ve always made that clear. I respect that. I think any decision, for instance, a release, a prisoner exchange, has to be made by the President. And I think the administration has done a good job on that,” Richardson added.

President Joe Biden met with the families of both Griner and Whelan last month.

“He wanted to let them know that they remain front of mind and that his team is working on this every day, on making sure that Brittney and Paul return home safely,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at the time.

Biden sharply condemned Russia following Griner’s conviction in August.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” Biden said in his statement at the time.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”

“My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible,” he added.

    1. They should leave her there, we don’t want her sorry ass – maybe they can trade her for those other two POS Colin Kappergimmick and Magen RapinHo,

  1. Dear Lord, I pray Lord, for the day I will never have to hear this stupid cunt’s name again. And Lord, please stop them from reporting on this useless piece of shit once and for all. Please and thank you Lord. Amen

  2. Who cares about this gutless American hating traitor? She hates this Country why should we care about her?

    How do you like REAL Oppression Britney? REAL repression is so much different than your made up weak woke stuff isn’t it Britney? Where is she gonna go since she hate America so much?

  3. Why does that asshole Biden keep saying this stupid bitch is being “illegally detained “? She broke the law and now she has to do the time, nobody cares that she is tall, black or gay. Maybe the BLM Russian chapter will get her out?

    1. Hi Buster! Don’t worry, Biden doesn’t give two shits about Brittney Griner. He has to say this stuff to please his bleeding-heart voters. In reality Joe Biden isn’t going to do anything substantial other than blow a lot of hot air. She’s not going anywhere.

  4. Why doesn’t Brittney join the Wagner Group? These mercenaries are recruiting prisoners for the “special military operation” in the Ukraine. Griner gets her freedom in exchange for 8 months of active duty in the Ukraine. She could camouflage herself as a tree.

    1. Dear Warren, there is absolutely no prejudice here. She broke Russian law. She needs to serve out her sentence and take responsibility for her own stupidity. Stop looking for help from Biden. He couldn’t care less about this pathetic turd. End of story. Now run along and go save some whales or something of that nature.

  5. U.S. Negotiator ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Griner Will Be Released By Year’s End.

    What is “cautiously optimistic” supposed to mean? Sounds a lot like “almost pregnant”. Good luck. LOL.

  6. How did “cautiously optimistic” work out for you Mr Richardson? Please stop with the false optimism. We all know it’s just for show you dick. Just fuck off already.

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