SPX3,718.51+71.22 1.95%
DIA296.71+5.41 1.86%
IXIC11,045.22+215.72 1.99%

UPDATE 1-Kremlin has no comment on report of U.S. envoy visit to discuss prisoner swap

UPDATE 1-Kremlin has no comment on report of U.S. envoy visit to discuss prisoner swap

Reuters · 09/14/2022 07:26
UPDATE 1-Kremlin has comment on report of U.S. envoy visit to discuss prisoner swap

This content was produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.

Adds Kremlin quote, detail

- The Kremlin on Wednesday had comment on reports that a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, had travelled to Moscow to discuss a potential exchange of imprisoned Americans and Russians

"There were meetings at the Kremlin," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. "I have to tell you on this subject."

CNN reported that Richardson, a former state governor of New Mexico, had held meetings with Russian officials in Moscow.

His Richardson Center specialises in the release of prisoners and hostages, and the ex-diplomat has been involved in the release of several high-level prisoners, including that of American Danny Fenster from a Myanmar prison last year.

The Richardson Center did immediately respond to an emailed request for comment outside business hours.

Russia's foreign ministry said last month it was engaged in "quiet diplomacy" with the United States regarding a potential prisoner swap that could include basketball star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, was sentenced to years in a Russian prison on drug charges on Aug. 4, a verdict that U.S. President Joe Biden called "unacceptable".

Washington has offered to exchange Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for Griner and Whelan, sources familiar with the situation have told Reuters.

Whelan, who holds American, British, Canadian and Irish passports, was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in jail after being convicted of spying. He denied the charge.

Griner, who had been prescribed medical cannabis in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, was arrested at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in February with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.

Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Mark Potter)