Arrested US Navy SEAL Russia Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was released from Russian custody on Thursday after months of negotiations led by him, a spokesman for his family told CNN.
Taylor Dudley, 35, of Lansing, Michigan, was detained by Russian border patrol police in April 2022 after traveling from Poland to Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave ruled by Moscow between Poland and Lithuania. He was attending a music festival in Poland and it is not clear why he crossed the border.
Dudley’s detention – which the US government does not consider “wrongful” or based on arbitrary and discriminatory motivations – was not widely publicized before Thursday because his family wanted negotiations for his release to remain private.
The Richardson Center for Global Engagement, a nonprofit founded by Richardson, spearheaded the negotiations, family spokesman Jonathan Franks told CNN. The former governor and diplomat has long worked to free Americans detained abroad, and his center It played a role in securing liberation Trevor Reed, an American citizen and former Marine who was wrongfully detained in Russia last summer.
Mickey Bergman, the center’s vice president and executive director, said no U.S. exchange was made for Dudley.
Bronx said the Steve Menzies Global Foundation and the US Embassy helped secure Dudley’s release.
“Earlier today, Russian authorities released US citizen Taylor Dudley, a 35-year-old Navy veteran, through the Polish border to Governor Bill Richardson and his team and a representative of the US Embassy in Warsaw, where the Richardson Center worked. Steve Menzies Global Foundation, Hostage US and James Diligent and quiet over 6 months with significant help from the Foley Foundation.The family will be forever grateful for the trio’s work.
“The past 9 months have been difficult for the family and they are asking the media to respect their privacy and give Taylor a place to welcome home,” he added.
In a separate statement to CNN, Richardson said Dudley was released Thursday at the Russia-Poland Bagrationovsk-Bezledy border crossing after nearly a year of negotiations. He also acknowledged the involvement of the State Department and the US embassies in Moscow and Warsaw in helping to secure Dudley’s release.
“After six months of intense work, it’s great to see this release of Taylor Dudley happen,” Richardson told CNN by phone on Thursday. “We worked hard in Moscow and Kaliningrad and first raised it during our meetings with the Russian authorities Brittney Griner And Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed.”
U.S. citizens Griner and Reed were released, but Whelan remains in Russian custody. Richardson said he and his team are still “pressing forward” in negotiations with Russia to secure Whelan’s release.
“There are many less Americans who deserve freedoms,” Richardson said. “In other words, there are many people who are not famous around the world, but they still deserve America’s support.”
US-Russia relations have hit an all-time low amid Moscow’s war in Ukraine and US sanctions against the Kremlin.
Several US citizens have been detained in Russia, including Whelan, a former US Marine who has been wrongfully detained. He was arrested in Russia in December 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Last year, the United States offered to hand over American basketball star Whelan and Griner to arms dealer Viktor Bode as a prisoner, but Russia agreed only to release Griner.
This story has been updated with additional information.