US may do ‘2-for-2’ prisoner swap to get Griner, Whelan out of Russia: ex-ambassador

Basketball star Britney Greenner and former Marine Paul Whelan are expected to be released from Russia as part of a “two-for-two” prisoner swap, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson said on Sunday.

“My view is optimistic, I think she’ll be free. There’s going to be a prisoner swap — I think it’s going to be two-for-two. Can’t forget Paul Whelan,” said Richardson, an outside adviser on the Greener case. Also the former governor of New Mexico, said in an exclusive interview with ABC’s “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Griner, who has been in custody since February, was sentenced last week to nine years in prison after being convicted of drug charges in a Moscow regional court; she said she accidentally traveled with an e-cigarette pack containing cannabis oil.

Whelan, who worked in corporate security after the Marines, was convicted of espionage — something he and the US have denied.

As for Richardson’s role in the ongoing negotiations over the detainees, he told Stephanopoulos that he was a “catalyst” and had been “talking to the Russians.”

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

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