• Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is working to secure WNBA star Brittney Griner's release.
  • He is expected to travel to Moscow in the next few weeks, ABC reported, citing an anonymous source.
  • Richardson has helped negotiate the release of hostages detained by Hamas, North Korea, and Cuba.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is expected to travel to Moscow for talks to secure the release and return of WNBA star Brittney Griner, ABC News reported, citing an anonymous source with knowledge of the matter.

A former ambassador to the United Nations, Richardson is a veteran negotiator and has been involved in securing the freedom of prisoners or hostages detained by North Korea, Hamas, Sudanese rebels, Cuba, Myanmar, and Iraq, according to his center's website.

He works privately as a hostage negotiator, but his missions often receive the blessing of the US government, according to the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

More recently, Richardson helped negotiate a prisoner swap in April between US Marine veteran Trevor Reed — held in Russia after being accused of drunkenly attacking Moscow police officers — and a convicted Russian drug smuggler who was in US custody since 2010.

Bill Richardson (right) seen with freed US journalist Danny Fenster, who was originally sentenced to 11 years in prison in Myanmar. Foto: KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images

According to ABC, Richardson plans to travel to Russia over the next few weeks, although the outlet noted that his office didn't confirm the trip and said it was "unable to comment on this at the moment."

Richardson's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

The former governor is currently representing Griner and her family, as well as the family of Paul Whelan, another US Marine veteran held in Russia on accusations of espionage.

Griner was detained in February after being accused by Russian authorities of possessing vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage at the airport. The White House described Griner as having been "wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances."

She pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges on Thursday. Experts told Insider the move could help her get home more quickly because she would likely have been found guilty by the Russian court.

TJ Quinn, a senior ESPN writer, cited sources who said Griner would also need to be found guilty if negotiations for her release were to begin.

Russian media has promoted the possibility of Griner or another American prisoner being exchanged for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, who's been called the "Merchant of Death."

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