WNBA Star Brittney Griner’s Detention Extended for a Third Time

For the third time in four months, WNBA superstar Brittney Griner remains in pretrial detention. Griner was detained in February by Russian authorities at Sheremetyevo International Airport. The Russian Federal Customs Service claims that Griner was smuggling vape cartridges containing marijuana concentrate in her luggage. Griner, age 31, is now under criminal investigation. If convicted she could be imprisoned for up to 10 years for “large-scale transportation of drugs”, which would prevent her from playing in the WNBA for the near future and possibly for the rest of her career.

After more than 120 days in Russian custody, the timeline in which Griner will be able to return remains up in the air. According to the Associated Press, Griner’s home team, the Phoenix Mercury, met with State Department officials to discuss her release. Mercury’s star player, Diana Taurasi, made a statement regarding the bizarre situation saying, “There is a lot involved in getting her back home and safe, they’re working relentlessly, we want BG to come home as soon as possible, it’s number one on our list.”

There is a lot involved with the release of Griner. In an interview with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, he said that he and WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert are working “side-by-side” to garner Griner’s release. In addition, the U.S government stated that Griner is being “wrongfully detained” and is utilizing the help of former U.S ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who has several years of experience as an international hostage negotiator.

With the Russian attack on Ukraine, Russia remains in poor standing with the rest of the world. Several countries including the U.S issued sanctions against the country.

With Griner having played for the Russian Premier League team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the last few off-seasons, it is unclear whether this was a retaliatory act by the Russian government. Regardless of the intention, the US Government says, it will be a “drawn-out battle” to get Griner back home.


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