Former wheat. Bill Richardson will travel to Russia for talks aimed at freeing Brittany Greener

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is planning to travel to Russia for talks aimed at finding a deal for the release of detained WNBA star Britney Grener, a source told ABC News on Saturday.

Sources said he is expected to travel to Moscow next week.

Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has a long history of working to free Americans who have been wrongfully detained abroad. He recently played a role in a prisoner exchange in which Russia released former U.S. Marine Trevor Reid after nearly two and a half years in prison.

Richardson currently represents the Grener family as well as the family of Paul Whelan, who has been in Russian custody for three and a half years.

Grener had been in custody in Russia since mid-February, when he was stopped at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and charged with possession of steam cartridges containing marijuana. Grener pleaded guilty earlier this week to bringing marijuana oil into Russia and told judges he did so “inadvertently” while seeking mercy from the court.

Sources told ESPN that the guilty plea was a ploy to help convert Grener into a prisoner who could be brought home and that there was no way he could be acquitted. If convicted of large-scale drug trafficking, Grener could face up to 10 years in prison.

The State Department issued a statement Thursday stating that it was working to secure Grener’s release. Asked to comment on Richardson’s possible visit, the White House National Security Council told ABC that they were in touch with Richardson and appreciated his efforts, but declined to say more.

Richardson does not represent the White House. In Reed’s case, he has contacted the Russian government and the Biden administration separately to find out what will be accepted as a possible settlement between the two sides. Then he repeated what he had heard from both sides.

Grener’s wife, Cheryl Grener, said she had requested help from Richardson’s team and would support the trip if that happened.

“We asked the Richardson Center to help and I was encouraged that he could go,” Cheryl Grener told ABC in a statement via Grener’s agent, Lindsay Colas.

TJ Quinn of ABC News and ESPN contributed to this report.

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