US Prisoner Freed From Russian Detention

US Prisoner Freed From Russian Detention

( – A former US sailor who’s been held in a Russian jail for almost a year walked free on Thursday. Taylor Dudley was arrested in Kaliningrad last April; since then, a former governor has been negotiating for his release. Now that work has paid off — Dudley’s ordeal is over at last.

In April 2022, 35-year-old Dudley, who was backpacking around Europe, attended a music festival in Poland. While he was in Poland, he crossed the border into the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast for reasons that are unclear. As he entered Russian territory, border guards detained him. The 5,800-square-mile enclave around the city of Kaliningrad — formerly Königsberg — is German territory seized by the USSR after WWII, and it’s surrounded by NATO territory. It also contains strategic missile defense radar systems, and Russia takes its security very seriously.

Unlike some other Americans detained abroad, the US government didn’t consider Dudley’s arrest to be unlawful. There’s no doubt that he crossed the border without authorization and was arrested on Russian soil. Perhaps because of this, negotiations for Dudley’s release were left to former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D), who runs a nonprofit that specializes in negotiating prisoner releases. Richardson and his team spent six months negotiating with Russia. On January 13, that work paid off; Dudley was allowed to cross back into Poland at the Bagrationovsk-Bezledy border crossing, where his mother was waiting to meet him.

Mickey Bergman, a vice president at the Richardson foundation, says the US didn’t make any concessions or release any detainees in American custody to get Dudley released. That’s a stark contrast to the case of basketball player Brittney Griner, who was arrested in December at a Moscow airport for drug trafficking. The Biden Administration agreed to release notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner.

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