Russian authorities have reportedly taken Brittney Griner into custody, a WNBA player. They allegedly discovered hashish oil while Griner was trying to leave Russia. At a moment when the world’s eyes are on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the basketball player’s arrest has been surrounded by an extra layer of tension.
Griner, a member of the Phoenix Mercury, was playing professionally in Russia during the WNBA’s offseason. Griner, a member of the Phoenix Mercury, is a seven time all-star and was awarded a 2014 championship. She’s also a two-time Olympic Gold medalist and won a national championship at Baylor University.
As the Russia-Ukraine conflict continued, on March 5, the State Department urged all U.S. citizens in the country to leave and also issued a “do not travel” advisory for the country.
Here’s what to know about the arrest.
Brittney Griner is being held in Russia.
Griner has been spending the past seven off-seasons living and playing in Russia. Griner was this year playing in the UMMC Ekaterinburg soccer team. On Jan. 29, she played her last match.
In that, there was nothing unusual about Griner’s situation. Griner was one among a few in Russia. In a lot of situations, they’re paid more oversees than they are in the United State. Griner earned $227,900 per year as a WNBA player, while she was reportedly paid $1 million annually in Russia. Other WNBA players who have played in Russia over the off-season are Breanna Stewart from Seattle Storm, Diana Taurasi of Phoenix Mercury, Jonquel Jones, a Connecticut Sun center, and Jonquel Jones, a Connecticut Sun player.
This Saturday: New York TimesRussian officials placed Griner under arrest after finding a hash oil vape pen in Griner’s bag while the woman was passing through security at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport. Griner appears to have gone through security, according to a video that was released by Russian Federal Customs Service.
It is unknown when Griner was arrested. Griner’s agent did not respond to a request for comment.
“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA,” Lindsay Kagawa Colas, her agent, said earlier in a statement reported by the Associated Press. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.”
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Comment has the WNBA reacted to this?
In a separate statement, the WNBA’s player association said they’ll “continue to closely monitor” the situation. “Our utmost concern is BG’s safety and well-being,” the WNBPA said.
Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, posted a photo on Instagram on Saturday thanking people for their support. On Monday she posted another picture on Instagram, in which Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner expressed her sorrow at not hearing back.
“I miss your voice, I miss your presence,” Cherelle Griner said in the post. “There are no words to express this pain. I’m hurting, we’re hurting.”
Is there anything that could go wrong?
The Times, a criminal case has been opened against Griner because of “large-scale transportation of drugs.” She could face up to 10 years in prison.
It’s unclear where she is currently being held or what the next steps in the process are.
A petition has started online called “Secure Brittney Griner’s Swift and Safe Return to the U.S.”
On the surface, Griner’s detention appears to have little to do with the conflict in Ukraine—drugs are one of the most common reasons why U.S. citizens are detailed when traveling internationally—however, the level of tension and concern about the treatment of an American in Russia at this moment remains high.