Bill Richardson, a senior Democratic politician and former US ambassador to the United Nations who later spent decades negotiating the release of Americans imprisoned around the world, died on Saturday at the age of 75, according to his associates.
Richardson, who was previously the governor of New Mexico and the US energy secretary, “passed away peacefully in his sleep” on Friday night, according to the Richardson Center for Global Engagement.
Richardson was one of the highest-profile Latinos in the US political world.
He became known as the Indiana Jones of US diplomacy, famous for his daring face-to-face contacts with strongmen leaders on the US pariah list, such as Iraq’s late president Saddam Hussein and Cuba’s late leader Fidel Castro.
He was recently involved in the efforts that resulted in the release of US basketball player Brittney Griner from a Russian prison after she was convicted of a narcotics crime.
The statement from the Richardson Centre said, “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.”
It added: “There was no person that Governor Richardson would not speak with if it held the promise of returning a person to freedom.”