Since her detention in Russia in February 2022, WNBA star Brittney Griner has attracted the support of other athletes who want to see her returned to the United States. After some hesitation at first, Russia has now spoken up and is prepared to act. The FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s residence and Brittney Griner’s drug smuggling sentence were confusedly linked on Monday by Russia’s foreign ministry, who claimed that the White House couldn’t denounce one without addressing the other. The strange analogy was made by Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, while the defense counsel for Griner appealed her nine-year prison term in Russia.
According to Zakharova, Russia is also prepared to act decisively and is open to a professional discussion on releasing Griner. According to early reports, Russia was open to trading Griner and another American for Viktor Bout, a worldwide illicit arms trader. The US, however, came under fire from Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday for continuing to refer the WNBA star as being “wrongfully imprisoned” by Moscow officials, claiming that this disrespects Russian law. On Monday, a number of media sites reported that Griner’s legal team had appealed her conviction; however, it remained unclear when that appeal would be heard.
All about the fragile situation of Brittney Griner in Russia
Brittney Griner has been a part of the Phoenix Mercury since 2013, when she was chosen by the team out of Baylor University in the first round of the WNBA draft. The 31-year-old is regarded as one of the finest defensive players in the Women’s National Basketball Association and was chosen in 2021 as one of the top 25 players in league history (WNBA). In addition to winning the Player of the Year Award and a national collegiate title in 2012, she has also won two Olympic gold medals and a WNBA championship since starting her professional career in 2013 with the US women’s national basketball team.
Brittney Griner has been held by Russian government since February 17, when they arrested her at Sheremetyevo International Airport on allegation that she was in possession of hashish oil-containing vape cartridges, which are forbidden in that country. To raise her earnings and maintain her good talents, Griner, like many other female basketball players, plays abroad during the WNBA summer. At the time of her arrest, Griner was playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League. Griner explained she had no idea how the cannabis oil got into her baggage, but added that she had a medical recommendation for it and had packed quickly.
Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry, slammed the US for saying Brittney Griner’s imprisonment was “wrongfully detained.” She added the following comments in her telegram post: “People who are to deal with these matters are ready“. She also said: “Let me remind you, Griner was smuggling cartridges of liquid for smoking, which contained hashish oil. The basketball player herself admitted this, since there was no point in denying it.” In response to criticism over this outrageous statement, she continued to refer to Americans as “drug addicts.”
The Griner case was given to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, a State Department unit entrusted with negotiating the release of Americans who are being held hostage and other people who are believed to be illegally imprisoned abroad, by the Biden administration in May. There are other Americans said to be engaged in a potential deal besides the Phoenix Mercury star. Paul Whelan, convicted on espionage charges, is also part of the deal. Despite the challenges, Griner and her family now have reason for optimism in light of the most recent report.