Navy vet Taylor Dudley released from Russia after near year-long imprisonment

U.S. Navy veteran Taylor Dudley on Thursday was released from Russian custody after he was held for nearly a year in Kaliningrad following his detainment in April 2022.

Dudley’s release was secured by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and his organization, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, which led negotiations with Russian authorities for six months.

The 35-year-old was greeted by his mother Shelley after crossing the Bagrationovsk-Bezledy border crossing into Poland and is “on his way home” according to a statement from the Center.

A sign with the words ‘State border crossing prohibited’ is seen near the three country border point, where the borders of Lithuania, Poland and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad intersect near Zerdziny, Poland on 10 November, 2022.
(Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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The circumstances of Dudley’s detainment remain unclear, though some reporting suggested he was arrested after crossing into Russia during a visit to Poland for a music festival just months after Moscow invaded Ukraine and as relations between the U.S. and Russia were crumbling.

“It is significant that despite the current environment between our two countries, the Russian authorities did the right thing by releasing Taylor today,” Richardson said Thursday.

Soldiers of the Polish army installing concertina wire at Poland’s border with Russian exclave Kaliningrad on Nov. 14, 2022, in Goldap, Poland.
(Paulius Peleckis/Getty Images)

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Dudley’s release comes just one month after WNBA star Brittney Griner was handed back over to Washington in exchange for international arms dealer Viktor Bout – an exchange that proved controversial given former Marine Paul Whelan’s continued detainment.

The Center did not answer Fox News Digital’s questions on whether Dudley’s return was also a part of an exchange and Richardson did not expand on details relating to the negotiations in his statement.

Bill Richardson, former Governor of New Mexico, in an interview on Jan. 13, 2015.
(Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

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“As we celebrate Taylor’s safe return, we remain very concerned for Paul Whelan and committed to continue to work on his safe return, as we have been for the last four years, as well as other Americans,” Richardson said.

The Richardson Center works in “citizen diplomacy” with nations often at odds with Washington and helps to secure the release of American hostages and prisoners abroad.