On Sunday, U.S. basketball officials announced that they were carefully monitoring the present situation regarding a seven-time WNBA All-Star player, who is currently being detained in Russia. Brittney Griner, who has surfaced across varied headlines in the past, was arrested in Russia in February for bringing vape cartridges filled with hash oil into the nation, which has strict laws against marijuana.
The Russian Customs Service recently announced that an athlete had been detained shortly after arriving to the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow from New York, without mentioning the Phoenix Mercury center by name.
However, TASS, a Russian news agency, declared that the detained athlete is Griner, referencing an unnamed source.
In response, the Phoenix Mercury team noted that it is “aware of and … closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” without providing further elaboration.
In Moscow’s airport, a standard airport security scan revealed cartridges that hold “liquid with hashish oil,” which provoked the opening of a criminal case in Russia. Possible sentences range from five to ten years in prison.
While it is not immediately clear when exactly Griner was detained, the player remains in custody as an investigation continues, per the Russian Customs Service. Griner plays for the Russian basketball team during the WNBA’s winter offseason.
After Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, numerous Western nations passed a series of sweeping sanctions intended to isolate Moscow. The United States has subsequently warned all citizens not to travel to Russia, as the American embassy in the nation presently has limited ability to help any citizens in the nation.
An official statement from the Phoenix Mercury proclaimed, “We love and support Brittney,” adding that “[their] main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”
Griner has won Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2021 with the U.S. national teams.
On Twitter, USA Basketball declared that Griner has “handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball.”
Similar to Phoenix Mercury, USA Basketball also cited the “safety and wellbeing” of Griner as their “primary concerns.”