WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner Held in Russia on Drug Charges

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Griner
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WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner reportedly entered the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow with hashish oil vape cartridges in her luggage and was detained. The Russian Federation Customs Service released a video that appeared to the Phonenix Mercury center as part of their announcement on Friday. Tass, the state-run news agency, identified the player, according to The New York Times.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s response to the news of the basketball player’s arrest said the United States is aware of the situation and will “provide every possible assistance” to Americans being held in foreign countries, including Russia. “There’s only so much I can say given the privacy considerations at this point,” he explained, referring to Griner. “We, of course, stand ready to provide every possible assistance.”

Griner
Courtesy of УГМК (Wikimedia CC0)

Blinken, speaking from a joint news briefing with Moldova President Maia Sandu, added that the U.S. has an embassy team working on other cases of Americans being held in Russia. They are doing everything possible to ensure their rights are respected.

A do not travel advisory for Russia was issued on Jan. 23, 2022, warning Americans against going to the country. The advisory warned U.S. citizens should not travel because of the potential for harassment and the embassy’s limited ability to assist citizens. Additional reasons cited were “terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.” Nine days later, another travel restriction order was issued after the Kremlin began its invasion of Ukraine.

Griner, 31, like many American basketball players, travels to European countries during the winter months. Most recently, she played in Russia.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

The New York Times: Brittney Griner, Star W.N.B.A. Center, Is Detained in Russia; by Michael Crowley and Jonathan Abrams
CNN: New York Times: Brittney Griner, two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA all-star, arrested in Russia on drug charges; by Wayne Sterling and Emma Tucker
ESPN: Basketball player Brittney Griner reportedly detained in Russia; WNBA, representatives working ‘to get her home;’ by Mechelle Voepel
ESPN: Commenting on WNBA star Brittney Griner, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says U.S. ready to give ‘every possible assistance’ to detained citizens

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