Russia Released US Navy Veteran Quietly Detained for 9 Months

Russia has freed a Navy veteran who has been detained since April in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania, a spokesman for his family announced Thursday, hitting For the second time in just over a month, an American has been released from Russian custody.

Russian officials allowed Taylor Dudley, a 35-year-old American citizen, to cross the Polish border. Mr. Dudley has been detained for nine months, the spokesman said, although his case is largely unknown to people outside the US government, his family and government supporters.

Mr. Dudley was greeted in Poland by an official from the US Embassy in Warsaw and Bill Richardson, a former congressman and governor of New Mexico, who specializes in negotiating the release of Americans detained in the country. outside.

Mr Dudley was backpacking in Europe and had traveled to Poland to attend a music festival, according to the spokesman, Jonathan Franks. He said Mr Dudley “at some point crossed the Russian border” into Kaliningrad. It is not yet clear what charges he has been charged with.

It’s also unclear what the US might have offered Russia in exchange for Dudley’s release, which comes less than five weeks after Russia released WNBA star Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap organized by the Biden administration office. A spokesman for Mr. Richardson told CNN, in which first time reportingthat no exchange was made by the United States.

The White House and State Department were not immediately available for comment.

“It is important that despite the current environment between our two countries, the Russian authorities did the right thing by releasing Taylor today,” Richardson said in a statement. He said he worked “confidentially” with Mr Dudley’s family for six months on the matter, along with US State Department officials and a businessman close to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, among others.

A White House official, speaking implicitly because of the sensitivity of the matter, noted the work of US officials at the embassies in Warsaw and Moscow and said that, out of privacy considerations, of the family, the government will not provide further details.

US officials have not made Mr Dudley’s case public or claimed he was “wrongfully detained”, as they have others detained in Russia since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, including including Griner and former Marine and corporate security adviser Paul Whelan.

Griner was released on December 8 in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is serving a US federal prison sentence. Mr. Whelan is still in prison for espionage that he and the US government deny.

Biden officials said they have worked with Russia to secure his release but have made no specific progress reports since Griner’s release. Many analysts believe that Russia will only trade Mr Whelan for a captured Russian spy.

Mr Richardson said in his statement on Thursday that “as we celebrate Taylor’s safe return, we remain deeply concerned for Paul Whelan and are committed to continuing to work for his safe return. , as we’ve done for the past four years, as well as other efforts. American.”

“Over the past year, our team has traveled to Moscow and the region several times, communicating with our Russian partners and channels,” Mr. Franks, in his statement, said.

Both he and Mr. Richardson also noted the fund is run by American businessman Steve Menzies and Vitaly Pruss, a New York businessman with ties to Russia.


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