Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Former diplomat to travel to Moscow to work on securing the release of detained Americans

Former diplomat and governor Bill Richardson is expected to travel to Russia in the coming weeks to discuss securing the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan back to the United States, according to a source familiar. The planned trip to Moscow by the former New Mexico governor and diplomat, who privately works on behalf of families of hostages and detainees, comes amid US government efforts to get the two Americans released and as pressure mounts to bring them home quickly. Both Whelan and Griner are considered wrongfully detained by the US government, and both of their families have been working with the nonprofit Richardson Center. CNN has reached out to the State Department and the National Security Council for comment on Richardson’s planned trip, which was first reported by ABC News. Mickey Bergman, the executive director of the Richardson Center, told CNN, “we are unable to comment on this, at this time.” (https://edition.cnn.com/2022/07/10/politics/bill-richardson-trip-moscow-griner-whelan/index.html) News of the planned trip comes days after Griner, the WNBA star who has been detained in Russia since February after being arrested on drug smuggling charges, pleaded guilty in a court outside Moscow. Griner, who the Russians said had two cartridges with less than a gram of cannabis oil in each, told the court Thursday that she was packing in a hurry and the cartridges ended up in her bag accidentally, and she did not intend to break the law. She faces up to 10 years in prison.

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