US Says It's Providing Resources To WNBA Star Brittney Griner, Who Was Detained In Russia
Griner is accused of carrying hashish oil in her luggage at an airport.
March 05, 2022 at 11:34 pm
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is speaking out on the concerning situation involving WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is being detained in Russia after being accused of carrying hashish oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. Speaking with ESPN, Blinken said the U.S. will “provide every possible assistance” to Griner.
“There’s only so much I can say given the privacy considerations at this point. Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we, of course, stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia,” Blinken said. “We have an embassy team that’s working on the cases of other Americans who are detained in Russia. We’re doing everything we can to see to it that their rights are upheld and respected.”
Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has also released a statement on Instagram.
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia,” Cherelle wrote. “Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life. I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely. Thank you!”
According to The New York Times, The Russian Federal Customs Service released a statement on Saturday, saying officials detained an American basketball player after finding vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage.
The Russian news agency TASS identified the player as Griner, citing a law enforcement source. Griner appeared to be seen in a video released by the Customs Service, wearing a mask and a black sweatshirt while going through security. The footage also showed an official removing a package from the passenger’s bag.
While the Customs Service didn’t reveal the exact date of the incident, officials said the screening at the airport occurred in February. The statement also revealed that a person can be sentenced to 10 years in prison for transporting illegal drugs in Russia.
Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star center for the Phoenix Mercury, won gold medals with the U.S. women’s national basketball team in 2021 and 2016. The basketball star plays overseas during the winter months.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” the Mercury said in a statement. “We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”
U.S. officials have been expressing concern about Russia detaining American citizens on trumped-up charges. The concern has especially grown in recent days as Russia continues to engage in conflict with Ukraine. The State Department has urged all U.S. citizens to depart the country immediately, citing concerns about “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials” and “the Embassy’s limited ability to assist” Americans in Russia, ESPN reports.
Several other WNBA players left Russia in the past week after the country invaded Ukraine.
“We are aware of the situation in Russia concerning one of our members, Brittney Griner. Our utmost concern is BG’s safety and well-being,” the WNBA Players’ union said in a statement to ESPN. “On behalf of The 144, we send our love and support. We will continue to closely monitor and look forward to her return to the U.S.”