Photo: Barry Gossage/NBAE by way of Getty Images
As tensions between the U.S. and Russia proceed to rise amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, American WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner has been arrested in Russia. Griner, who performs for the Phoenix Mercury within the WNBA and for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg throughout the low season, was reportedly arrested on drug fees in February after customs discovered vape cartridges in her baggage on the airport. Griner may resist ten years in jail.
Russia introduced the information on Saturday, telling the world that that they had an American basketball participant in custody. The participant was later recognized as Griner, and pictures allegedly exhibiting her cease at customs was additionally launched. As the New York Times reported, Russian legislation enforcement are saying that Griner was discovered with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. How a lot oil was not launched, however Russia is reportedly opening a prison case in opposition to Griner taking a look at “large-scale transportation of drugs.”
When Griner was taken into custody stays unclear. According to ESPN, sports activities brokers have been urging American gamers to depart Russia for not less than every week. Women’s basketball agent Mike Cound confirmed to ESPN on February 27 that he was working with not less than “two players” in Russia making an attempt to coordinate flights in another country, and all we all know concerning the airport footage launched is that it was filmed someday in February.
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, informed ESPN that they had been “in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA.” Colas’s assertion continued, “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case, but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.” Griner’s spouse, Cherelle Griner, additionally launched a press release on Instagram thanking followers for his or her “prayers and support” and asking for privateness. Meanwhile, the WNBA launched a press release providing Griner its “full support” and noting, “Our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States.” Phoenix Mercury and USA Basketball additionally launched comparable statements.
Griner’s arrest in Russia is very troubling given her high-profile standing as an American athlete and her id as an LGBTQ+ Black girl. Russian president Vladimir Putin is actively anti-LGBTQ rights, having declared in 2020 that he would by no means legalize same-sex marriage within the nation.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged Griner’s arrest throughout a press convention on Sunday, March 6, saying, “Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we of course stand ready to provide every possible assistance. And that includes in Russia.” At the second, it’s unclear if the federal government is doing something to assist safe Griner’s launch. The State Department can also be advising each U.S. citizen to depart Russia as quickly as potential.
Everything to Know About Brittney Griner’s Russian Arrest