Following months of on-the-ground negotiations spearheaded by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Russian authorities released on Thursday American Citizen Taylor Dudley, a 35-year-old Navy veteran who had been detained in Russia since April, negotiators announced.
Per the media reports, no one from the US side was sent to Russia in exchange for Dudley’s release.
A Michigan native who is now on his way home, Dudley was detained by Russian border patrol police in April 2022 after crossing into Kaliningrad from Poland where he was attending a music festival at the time but it’s still unknown why he crossed into the Russian exclave – a territory governed by Moscow between Poland and Lithuania- at the first place.
Washington had not deemed Dudley’s detention as wrongful or based on arbitrary and discriminatory motivations and his family wanted the negotiations for his release to remain private, so his case had not been widely publicized before Thursday.
Over the past year, members of the Richardson Center for Global Engagement – , a non-profit founded by Gov. Richardson – traveled multiple times to Moscow and the region to discreetly negotiate Dudley’s release and safe return.
Having worked for a long time to free Americans detained abroad, the former governor and diplomat and his center also played a role in securing the release of former Marine Trevor Reed, a US citizen who had been wrongfully detained in Russia, last summer.
According to Dudley’s family spokesperson Jonathan Franks, the US Embassy and the Steve Menzies Global Foundation also helped to secure Dudley’s release.
Underscoring the significance of the negotiations without disclosing any detail, Gov. Richardson underscored that Russian authorities had done the right thing, adding, however, that he’s worried for the former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since 2018, and committed to continue to work on his safe return.