US women’s basketball player detained by Russia in good condition
Detained American basketball player Brittney Griner was found to be in good condition by a U.S. Embassy official in Moscow, Russia who was granted access to her on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Griner, an Olympic gold medalist and All-Star player, has been detained in a Russian prison during a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The State Department has been pushing Russian authorities for access to the sports star.
“Within the past couple hours, an official from our embassy has been granted consular access to Brittney Griner,” Price said in an interview with CNN.
“Our official found Brittney Griner to be in good condition and we will continue to do everything we can to see to it that she is treated fairly throughout this ordeal.”
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) spoke out about the relative lack of news coverage devoted to WNBA star Brittney Griner’s ongoing detention in Russia. Griner has been held in Russia for at least three weeks on drug charges. pic.twitter.com/XeKEWc0pmI
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 17, 2022
The WNBA said last week it was working with the U.S. government to get Griner freed after the TASS news agency said her detention for possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil was extended until May 19.
The WNBA said it continued to work with government officials and others to get her home safely. “This continues to be a complex situation that is extremely difficult for Brittney, her family and all who are hoping for a swift resolution,” it said in a statement Wednesday.
Griner, 31, won Olympic gold medals with the U.S. national teams in 2016 and 2021 and is a seven-time All-Star. She plays center for the Phoenix Mercury and plays in Russia during the WNBA’s winter off-season.
It was not clear exactly when Griner was detained, but it was announced after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, which dramatically worsened relations between Washington and Moscow.
TASS said the Khimkinsky court of the Moscow region ruled to detain Griner.
The Russian Customs Service said this month that a player was detained in February after arriving at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on a flight from New York.
A scan of the player’s luggage revealed cartridges containing “liquid with hashish oil”, and a criminal case has been opened carrying a possible sentence of five to 10 years in prison, the customs service said.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; editing by Susan Heavey and Jonathan Oatis)