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 the US, Russian authorities detained Brittney Griner, a W.N.B.A. star, on drug fees. 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 heart for the Phoenix Mercury and a key determine in two champion Olympic groups, comes throughout an infected standoff between Russia and the US over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pulls the participant in the midst of essentially the most acute disaster between the 2 nations because the Chilly Battle.

Here’s what we all know to this point about Ms. Griner’s detention.

The Russian Federal Customs Service mentioned {that a} sniffer canine had prompted it to go looking 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 observed vapes after scanning the traveler’s bag.

The customs service mentioned {that a} legal case had been opened into the large-scale transportation of medicine, a cost that would 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 way of airport safety with a trolley suitcase and a small backpack, adopted by footage of somebody inspecting a bundle 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 U.S.A. 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 no less than a number of days. She final posted on Instagram on Feb. 5. The timing offered leaves open the chance that the case might 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 the US, 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, army and diplomatic strain the US has leveled towards Russia in latest 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 court docket sentenced to 9 years in jail in 2020 on fees 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 go away Russia instantly given the “potential for harassment towards U.S. residents by Russian authorities safety officers.”

Ms. Griner has performed for the Russian workforce 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 an alternative of resting throughout the low season this 12 months, 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 hundreds of thousands of {dollars}.

Worldwide feminine groups, which are likely to have extra authorities and company monetary help than these within the W.N.B.A., pays tons of of 1000’s of {dollars} a season, and typically 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 doable help” to any American held by a overseas authorities.

“Each time an American is detained anyplace on the earth, we in fact stand prepared to offer each doable help,” Mr. Blinken mentioned. “And that features in Russia.”

The W.N.B.A. mentioned in an announcement that Ms. Griner “has the W.N.B.A.’s full help and our essential precedence is her swift and secure return to the US.”

The Mercury additionally launched an announcement saying that they “love and help Brittney” and that their essential concern was her security, her bodily and psychological well being and her secure return residence.

“Thanks to everybody who has reached out to me relating to 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 residence safely.”

Lara Jakes contributed reporting from Chisinau, Moldova.



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