US determines Brittney Griner wrongly detained in Russia

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US determines Brittney Griner wrongly detained in Russia

The US has determined that WNBA star Brittney Griner is being wrongfully detained in Russia, the State Department said Tuesday.

The change in designation indicates that the US will ramp up efforts to secure Griner’s release.

“The US government will continue to undertake efforts to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner,” the State Department said.

The case has been moved to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, which is tasked with negotiating the release of Americans being held hostage and others classified as being wrongfully detained in other countries.

It’s unclear what prompted officials to classify Griner’s case as a wrongful detainment.

Griner, 31, was arrested at a Moscow airport in mid-February for allegedly having cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage. She faces five to 10 years in Russian prison if convicted on drug smuggling charges.

Brittney Griner
Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for allegedly possessing cannabis vape cartridges.
Russian Federal Customs Service
Griner won the 2014 WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury.
AP
Brittney Griner
Griner faces up to 10 years in Russian prison if she is convicted of drug smuggling.
Russian Federal Customs Service

She won the WNBA championship in 2014 with the Phoenix Mercury. She has played for a Russian team in the offseason for the past several years.

“Brittney has been detained for 75 days and our expectation is that the White House do whatever is necessary to bring her home,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said Tuesday.

Nneka Ogwumike, the president of the WNBA players’ union, said in a separate statement that it was “time for her to come home.”

Brittney Griner
Griner’s case has been moved to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.

“Having learned that the US government has now determined that BG is being wrongfully detained we are hopeful that their efforts will be significant, swift and successful,” Ogwumike said.

Griner was determined to be in “good condition” when the State Department negotiated access to her in March.

Russia participated last week in the prisoner swap of another US citizen, former US Marine Trevor Reed.

With Post wires

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