US Navy veteran from Lansing released from Russian custody

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 10:33 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2023 at 6:36 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An U.S. Navy veteran from Michigan was released from Russian custody nearly a year after he was first detained, a family spokesperson confirmed on Thursday.

As first reported by CNN, Taylor Dudley, 35, of Lansing, was detained by Russian border patrol police in April of 2022 after he crossed the border from Poland into Kaliningrad.

Kaliningrad is a separate territory located between Poland and Lithuania controlled by Moscow. It lies 400 miles to the west of mainland Russia.

CNN reports Dudley was in Poland at a music festival when he made his way into the exclave. It is unknown why Dudley crossed the border.

His release was negotiated for months, CNN reported, and led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. The Richardson Center negotiates for the release of American prisoners and hostages held in hostile regimes or in countries with strained diplomatic relations according to their website.

Governor Richardson and the Richardson Center have been working closely with Taylor’s family. His mother, Shelley, his brother, Louis, and his aunt, Jennifer over the last six months have been working in the efforts that led to his release and safe return home.

“Taylor’s safe return would not have been possible without the help of Ara Abramyan and Vitaly Pruss, who turned every stone in this joint effort; and the help of Steve Menzies, who offered tremendous support to this effort,” said Governor Richardson in a statement. “It is significant that despite the current environment between our two countries, the Russian authorities did the right thing by releasing Taylor today. And 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.”

Governor Richardson acknowledged the positive collaboration with U.S. State Department officers, James Waterman and Paul Mastin, of the American Citizens’ Services at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow: and James Duke, of the American Citizens’ Services at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw in a statement.

News 10 will have your updates as this story develops.

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