OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 1:11 PM PT – Thursday, January 12, 2023
Taylor Dudley, a United States Navy veteran has been freed from Russian detention after nine months in Kaliningrad.
Following nearly a year in Russian custody after he was detained in April 2022, Dudley’s release was secured on Thursday by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) and his organization, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement.
The Richardson Center works with nations often at odds with the United States, and helps to secure the release of American hostages and prisoners abroad.
After six months of negotiations between the organization and Russian authorities, which were spearheaded by the former governor himself, the release was secured. The 35-year-old was greeted by his mother as he crossed the Bagrationovsk-Bezledy border in Poland.
According to a statement from the center, Dudley is “on his way home.”
Circumstances surrounding his arrest, which took place after Moscow invaded Ukraine and the U.S. Russian relations were falling apart, remain unclear. Some reports suggested that he was arrested when he crossed into Russia during his visit to Poland to attend a music festival.
Dudley’s release comes one month after WNBA star Brittney Griner was exchanged back to the U.S. for Viktor Bout. The exchange had caused major backlash as former Marine Paul Whelan is also imprisoned in Russia and was not part of that trade.
Reports suggested that Dudley’s release was not part of a trade, although Richardson did not expand on the details of the trade. He also said that they are working on bringing home other Americans that have been detained abroad.
“As we celebrate Taylor’s safe return, 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, as well as other Americans,” Richardson said.