HomeSportWhat We Know About Brittney Griner’s Detention in Russia

What We Know About Brittney Griner’s Detention in Russia

As tensions rose between Russia and america, Russian authorities detained Brittney Griner, a W.N.B.A. star, on drug expenses. The Russian Federal Customs Service introduced Ms. Griner’s detention on Saturday however mentioned she was stopped on the Sheremetyevo airport close to Moscow final month.

The detention of Ms. Griner, 31, a seven-time W.N.B.A. All-Star middle for the Phoenix Mercury and a key determine in two champion Olympic groups, comes throughout an infected standoff between Russia and america over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pulls the participant in the course of essentially the most acute disaster between the 2 international locations because the Chilly Warfare.

Here’s what we all know up to now about Ms. Griner’s detention.

The Russian Federal Customs Service mentioned {that a} sniffer canine had prompted it to look the carry-on baggage of an American basketball participant on the Sheremetyevo airport close to Moscow, and that it had discovered vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. A state-owned Russian information company then recognized the participant as Ms. Griner.

Cannabis oil is a marijuana focus that has a excessive focus of the psychoactive chemical THC, and it’s generally offered in cartridges which can be utilized in vape pens. The Russian Federal Customs Service mentioned that customs officers had seen vapes after scanning the traveler’s bag.

The customs service mentioned {that a} felony case had been opened into the large-scale transportation of medication, a cost that might carry a sentence of as much as 10 years in jail.

It launched a video of a traveler who gave the impression to be Ms. Griner going by means of airport safety with a trolley suitcase and a small backpack, adopted by footage of somebody analyzing a package deal that gave the impression to be from the traveler’s suitcase.

“Brittney has at all times dealt with herself with the utmost professionalism throughout her lengthy tenure with USA Basketball,” U.S.A. Basketball said on Twitter.

The screening on the airport occurred in February, in keeping with the Customs Service, elevating the chance that Ms. Griner had been in custody for at the least a number of days. She final posted on Instagram on Feb. 5. The timing offered leaves open the chance that the case may have been underway in secret for weeks earlier than Russian authorities selected to attract consideration to it.

It’s nonetheless unclear whether or not Russia may need focused Ms. Griner as leverage towards america, which has led a widespread effort to impose harsh sanctions on Russia and its elite.

Citing privateness constraints, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken didn’t touch upon the detention on Sunday at a information convention in Chisinau, Moldova, and didn’t reply to a query about whether or not Russia had introduced her arrest as retaliation for the financial, navy and diplomatic stress america has leveled towards Russia in current days.

However American officers have repeatedly accused Russia of detaining U.S. residents on uncertain pretexts.

“This follows a sample of Russia wrongly detaining & imprisoning US residents,” Consultant Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, wrote on Twitter on Saturday, citing the case of Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine whom a Russian courtroom sentenced to 9 years in jail in 2020 on expenses of violence towards cops that his household and supporters described as fraudulent.

On Saturday, the State Division launched an up to date advisory urging Americans to depart Russia instantly given the “potential for harassment towards U.S. residents by Russian authorities safety officers.”

Ms. Griner has performed for the Russian staff UMMC Ekaterinburg for a number of years throughout the W.N.B.A. low season.

Many American gamers compete with high-paying Russian groups: about 70 W.N.B.A. gamers have determined to play with worldwide groups as a substitute of resting throughout the low season this yr, with greater than a dozen in Russia and Ukraine.

A W.N.B.A. spokeswoman mentioned on Saturday that each one the others had already left Russia and Ukraine.

The monetary incentives are compelling. W.N.B.A. gamers make a fraction of what their male counterparts do, with their most wage in 2022 at $228,094 whereas the highest N.B.A. gamers are paid tens of tens of millions of {dollars}.

Worldwide feminine groups, which are likely to have extra authorities and company monetary assist than these within the W.N.B.A., will pay tons of of hundreds of {dollars} a season, and generally greater than $1 million.

Some observers criticized the gender pay hole in American basketball in connection to Ms. Griner’s detention.

Mr. Blinken mentioned the State Division would “present each potential help” to any American held by a overseas authorities.

“At any time when an American is detained wherever on this planet, we after all stand prepared to supply each potential help,” Mr. Blinken mentioned. “And that features in Russia.”

The W.N.B.A. mentioned in a press release that Ms. Griner “has the W.N.B.A.’s full assist and our principal precedence is her swift and secure return to america.”

The Mercury additionally launched a press release saying that they “love and assist Brittney” and that their principal concern was her security, her bodily and psychological well being and her secure return dwelling.

“Thanks to everybody who has reached out to me concerning my spouse’s secure return from Russia,” Ms. Griner’s spouse, Cherelle T. Griner, posted on Instagram on Saturday, including, “We proceed to work on getting my spouse dwelling safely.”

Lara Jakes contributed reporting from Chisinau, Moldova.



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