US Navy Veteran Released From Russian Custody In Kaliningrad

Another American who had been quietly held in Russian detention, and whose case has received no media spotlight or coverage since his arrest, has been released by the Kremlin after a year of detention

US Navy veteran Taylor Dudley was released where he had been in detention in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which lies between Poland and Lithuania. It comes following last year's high profile prisoner exchange involving Brittney Griner and Victor Bout, and involved the mediation of former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Dudley was delivered to the Polish border by Russian authorities, where he crossed back. The US had deemed his a "wrongful" detention.

US Navy Veteran Released From Russian Custody In Kaliningrad
Taylor Dudley, NBC News screenshot

But unlike with the Griner case, or with other still detained Americans like Paul Whelan or Marc Fogel, the 35-year old Dudley - a Michigan native - had crossed into the Russian province of Kaliningrad during the Ukraine war, in April. The other American cases involved arrests and detentions prior to the Feb.24 Ukraine invasion.

"Today, the Russian govt released my client, Taylor Dudley, a Navy vet, cross the Polish border," , a spokesperson for the family, Jonathan Franks tweeted Thursday morning.

According to background first reported in CNN:

Taylor Dudley, 35, of Lansing, Michigan, was detained by Russian border patrol police in April 2022 after crossing from Poland into Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave which is territory governed by Moscow between Poland and Lithuania. He was in Poland attending a music festival, and it is not clear why he crossed the border.

Dudley’s detention – which the US government had not deemed as “wrongful,” or based on arbitrary and discriminatory motivations – had not been widely publicized...

Working alongside Gov. Richardson was the US Embassy in Warsaw, the Steve Menzies Global Foundation, and the James Foley Foundation - all who helped secure the release of Dudley.

Franks' tweet said additionally that "For every case in the James Foley Foundation count that is public, there are 3 that aren’t, and this is one of those cases." Thus it appears the family and negotiators intentionally kept knowledge of Dudley's plight out of the public eye, presumably to not negatively impact the negotiation process.

US Navy Veteran Released From Russian Custody In Kaliningrad

CNN and others are reporting that no known exchange was made for Dudley. "The past 9 months have been difficult ones for the family and they ask the media to respect their privacy and give them the space to welcome Taylor home," a family statement added. It's still as yet unclear why he crossed the border in the first place, with all media statements describing this in an ambiguous and somewhat mysterious way.

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