US officials confirmed the launch. It appears that the US government has not reciprocated by releasing any Russian prisoners as it has in the past, including professional basketball player Brittney Griner, who was traded for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.
A State Department spokesman indicated that Dudley had been deported from Russia, another sign that his release was not equivalent to previous exchanges and may have little bearing on the case of another American citizen in Russia, Paul Whelan, whom the government Biden has been trying to free himself through a prisoner exchange.
“Generally, when a US citizen is deported, the Department of State can provide assistance to help facilitate the US citizen’s return to the United States,” the spokesperson said. Like others, this person spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal procedures.
In releasing Griner, Biden faced resistance abroad and at home
Another US official described the release as the result of consular negotiations and was unaware of any help from other parties.
“The US government has no information regarding a role played by any outside actor in this case. The US government is focused on providing consular services to Americans. We are all grateful to our embassies in Moscow and Warsaw for their longstanding work on this case,” said this official.
CNN first reported Dudley’s release.
Dudley was reportedly attending a music festival in Poland when he was arrested. It was unclear why he crossed the border into the Russian province.
Dudley briefly served in the United States Navy, according to military records provided by the service. He enlisted in 2007, but his term ended abruptly six months later, records show. He completed recruiting training but left before finishing further schooling to become a nuclear field electronics technician, according to a Navy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Dudley’s personal details.
It’s unclear why he received an initial separation from the Navy, which is a discharge that occurs before a service member changes to their job specialty.
It is plausible that Russian authorities suspected that Dudley possessed valuable information from his military training. His intended field focuses on electronic systems that help operate nuclear reactors on Navy ships, a highly sensitive area. Dudley left after about four months of training, according to his service record, before he was able to begin a specialized curriculum in nuclear power.
Alex Horton contributed to this report.
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