Richardson died in his sleep at home in Chatham, Massachusetts, it was announced on Saturday.
He played a key role in getting the WNBA star Griner out of her Russian imprisonment – after she was arrested at an airport in February 2022 with cannabis oil in her vape cartridges.
Richardson met with Russian officials in the weeks and months before Griner’s release last December, along with Mickey Bergman – the vice-president at Richardson’s Center for Global Engagement foundation.
Her representatives at Wasserman said in a statement: ‘It is with heartfelt sympathy that we acknowledge the passing of former Governor and United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson.
Bill Richardson played a key role in helping to free Brittney Griner from jail in Russia
Richardson’s death at the age of 75 was announced this weekend – he died in his sleep
‘Governor Richardson was a true partner, along with the Biden administration, in securing the release of Brittney Griner, our friend and client.
‘We are profoundly grateful for the Governor’s decades-long service to our country and his passion and efforts to bring dozens of wrongfully detained Americans home.
‘Our thoughts are with his family, friends, Mickey Bergman and the Richardson Center for Global Engagement.’
Griner had been assigned to a penal colony in Mordovia, a region known for its brutal prison system, until the Biden administration was able to secure her release last December.
She was swapped for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, known by some as the ‘merchant of death’. Bout was arrested on terrorism charges in 2008 and later convicted in the US.
The Richardson Center for Global Engagement – the foundation he started and led – announced his passing on Saturday.
‘He lived his entire life in the service of others — including both his time in government and his subsequent career helping to free people held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” Mickey Bergman, the center’s vice president, said.
‘There was no person that Gov. Richardson would not speak with if it held the promise of returning a person to freedom.
‘The world has lost a champion for those held unjustly abroad, and I have lost a mentor and a dear friend.’