US Navy Veteran Taylor Dudley Released From Russian Custody!

US Navy Veteran Taylor Dudley: A Navy veteran from the United States who had been held in Russia for almost a year was freed on Thursday, a spokesperson for his family told CNN. This came after months of negotiations led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Taylor Dudley, 35, from Lansing, Michigan, was taken into custody by Russian border patrol police in April 2022. He had crossed from Poland into Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania ruled by Moscow.

He was at a music festival in Poland, and it’s not clear why he crossed the border. Before Thursday, not many people knew about Dudley’s detention, which the US government had not called “wrong” or based on arbitrary or discriminatory reasons.

This was because Dudley’s family wanted the negotiations for his release to stay private. Jonathan Franks, a family spokesman, told CNN that Richardson’s non-profit, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, led the talks.

The former governor and diplomat have worked for a long time to free Americans who have been wrongfully detained abroad. Last summer, Trevor Reed, a US citizen and former Marine who had been wrongfully imprisoned in Russia, was partly freed because of his center’s work.

US Navy Veteran Taylor Dudley
US Navy Veteran Taylor Dudley

Mickey Bergman, the center’s vice president, and the executive president said Dudley had no exchange on the US side. Franks said that the Steve Menzies Global Foundation and the US Embassy also helped get Dudley out of jail.

“Earlier today, Russian authorities released Taylor Dudley, a 35-year-old Navy veteran, across the Polish border to Gov. Bill Richardson, his team, and a U.S. Embassy in Warsaw representative.

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This was a release that the Richardson Center had been working on quietly for more than 6 months, with help from the Steve Menzies Global Foundation, Hostage U.S., and the James Foley Foundation. The family will always be grateful to all three of you for what you did.”

The last nine months have been hard for the family, and they want the media to give them space to welcome Taylor home and respect their privacy,” he said.

Richardson told CNN in a separate statement that Dudley had been freed at the Russia-Poland Bagrationovsk-Bezledy border crossing on Thursday after almost a year of talks. He also said that the State Department and the US Embassies in Moscow and Warsaw had helped get Dudley out of jail.

Richardson told CNN by phone on Thursday, “After six months of hard work, it’s great to see Taylor Dudley get out of jail.” “We worked hard on it in Moscow and Kaliningrad, and we brought it up for the first time when we met with Russian officials about Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan, and Trevor Reed.”

Griner and Reed have been let go, but the Russians still hold Whelan. Richardson said he and his team are still “pressing forward” in talks with Russia to get Whelan’s release. “There are a lot of Americans who don’t get much attention who also deserve freedoms,” Richardson said.

In other words, many people worldwide who aren’t famous but still deserve America’s help.” Relations between the US and Russia are at their worst because of Moscow’s war in Ukraine and US sanctions against the Kremlin.

Several US citizens are still being held in Russia. One of them is Whelan, a former US Marine being held illegally. In December 2018, he was caught in Russia and given a 16-year prison sentence. Last year, the US wanted to trade Viktor Bout for Whelan and Griner, an American basketball player, but Russia only agreed to release Griner.

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