UPDATED 8:33 AM PT – Monday, August 8, 2022
President Joe Biden’s de-facto hostage rescue envoy, former New Mexico Governor and UN Ambassador Bill Richardson, has high hopes for diplomats to secure the return of WNBA star Brittney Griner. While speaking with ABC News Sunday, Richardson maintained all sides are working diligently to secure a prisoner swap to get Griner back to America, along with US Marine Paul Whelan who’s been imprisoned in Russia since 2018.
Richardson also said he’s been acting as mediator between the Biden administration, Russia and other countries that detained Americans while citing his experience and contacts as reason the ball is moving forward.
“Through my experience, for instance, Foreign Minister Lavrov, he and I were ambassadors together at the same and I’m pleased that he’s pragmatic, that he’s sort of in charge and sent a good signal,” Richardson stated. “I think the negotiations are going to be undertaken and my view is that I’m optimistic. I think she’s going to be freed.”
The former Clinton-era diplomat went on to commend the Biden administration for actually “doing something” to get Americans back after families of those detained abroad criticized Biden’s response late last year. Richardson added, there should be only one mission Biden should be focused on: getting Americans back on American soil.
“We have to bring American hostages home, especially those wrongfully detained, especially those who have served in our military,” he stressed. “So look, they’re not perfect, but I commend the President for considering it.”
Meanwhile, critics are speaking out against the Biden administration’s efforts while pointing to officials’ hypocrisy. Griner was arrested and later convicted for having hashish oil on her at a Russian airport. Top officials, including Biden, Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, rushed to decry Russia’s actions as heinous.
However, some critics, including former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, lamented there are people in the US who are facing imprisonment for similar crimes who are not receiving that much attention. Gabbard also reiterated, many officials put those Americans behind bars, namely her arch nemesis Kamala Harris.
“And to me, the message to the American people through their actions is loud and clear: if you are rich and powerful or famous then you will get special treatment from this administration,” she noted. “If you are not, we don’t care about you. We’re gonna sit and let you rot in jail.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who was publicly derided by federal regulators and the mainstream media for smoking weed on the Joe Rogan experience, echoed a similar sentiment.
“I was like, man if the President is working so hard to sort of free someone who’s in jail in Russia for some weed then shouldn’t we free people in America?” he asked open-endedly.
In the meantime, Ambassador Richardson warned instances of Americans being detained overseas has gone up in recent years. This has prompted President Biden and his State Department to bolster protocols combating efforts to imprison Americans, including warning citizens of countries that are targeting Americans like Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela.