Former U. S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson predicted Sunday that U.S. citizens Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, who are imprisoned in Russia, will be freed in a “two-for-two” prisoner swap with Moscow.
“I’m optimistic. I think she’s going to be free,” Richardson said of WNBA star Griner on ABC’s “This Week.”
“There’s gonna be a prisoner swap, though, and I think it’ll be two-for-two, involving Paul Whelan. We can’t forget him.”
Griner was sentenced last week to nine years in a penal colony for drug possession and smuggling, after pleading guilty to drug possession charges. Whelan, a former U. S. Marine, is three years into a 16-year sentence on spying charges, which he and the U.S. deny.
Richardson dodged questions about whether educator Marc Fogel, who is facing 14 years for drug possession and smuggling, would also be included in swap talks.
“All of these that are wrongfully detained need to come home,” Richardson said.
He added that his foundation, The Richardson Center, is involved in talks about the release of three other Americans held by Russia, but that he was a “catalyst” for what would ultimately be a government-to-government agreement…. (Read more)