U.S. may do '2-for-2' prisoner swap to get Griner, Whelan out of Russia: Ex-ambassador

"My view is optimistic," Bill Richardson said on "This Week."

ByMason Leib via ABC logo
Sunday, August 7, 2022
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"My view is optimistic," Bill Richardson said on "This Week."

Basketball star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan should hopefully be released from Russia as part of a "two-for-two" prisoner swap, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson said Sunday.

"My view is optimistic, I think she's gonna be free. There's gonna be a prisoner swap -- I think it's gonna be two for two. Can't forget about Paul Whelan," Richardson, who is an outside adviser involved in Griner's case and who is also the former governor of New Mexico, said in an exclusive interview with ABC "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Griner has been detained since February and was sentenced last week to nine years in prison after she was found guilty of drug charges in a Moscow-area court; she has said she accidentally traveled with vape cartridges containing hashish oil.

Whelan, who worked in corporate security after the Marines, was convicted of espionage -- which he and the U.S. deny.

As for Richardson's role in the ongoing negotiations over the detainees, he told Stephanopoulos he was a "catalyst" who has been "talking to the Russians."

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.