Statement on the Release of Brittney Griner from Russia

Governor Richardson is supportive of the President’s decision to bring Brittney Griner home to her family, and commends the Biden Administration for their efforts in securing her release. Along with the President, Governor Richardson recognizes that the safe return of Paul Whelan needs to be the next major priority, and will continue to work with the Administration to secure Paul Whelan’s immediate return.

Governor Bill Richardson and the Richardson Center are thrilled and relieved that American Brittney Griner, has been released from prison in Russia and is on her way home to be reunited with her family. At the same time, we share our concern for the remaining Americans held in Russia.

Since February of this year we have been working closely with Brittney’s family — her wife, Cherelle and her father, Raymond — as well as their trusted representative, Lindsay Colas, trying to secure Brittney’s safe return home.

In this effort, we have travelled to Moscow and the region numerous times, held many engagements with our Russian counterparts, conduits, and Russian Embassy Officials in Washington DC.  In these private humanitarian missions, meeting with Russian leadership, we discussed solutions to secure Brittney’s, Paul’s and 3 other Americans’ safe return home, including Grady Kurpasi.  We have also met regularly with the White House’ National Security Team to report our progress, coordinate efforts, and urge action that would lead to the release of Brittney Griner, as well as Paul Whelan.

“Often, the price we pay for bringing our fellow Americans home to their families is unseemly, but it is the right thing to do – for our fellow Americans, their families, and for our nation.” said Governor Richardson. “We remain very concerned for Paul Whelan and committed to continue to work on his safe return, as we have been for the last four years.”

Governor Richardson would like to personally thank Ara Abramyan, Steven Menzies, Fred Smith, Vitaly Pruss and Ian Brownlow for their help in support of the efforts to release Brittney and others.

The Richardson Center negotiates for the release of American prisoners and hostages held in hostile regimes or in countries with strained diplomatic relations. We work on behalf of the families and at no cost to them. The Richardson Center is greatly appreciative of our partners, including many individuals and foundations who support and enable our work as a non-for-profit.