More bad news from Russia…
WNBA star Brittney Griner got detained in Moscow after the Russian Federal Customs Service allegedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis in her luggage last month. She’s facing up to ten years in prison.
On Saturday, Russian Customs released a video of Brittney Griner, an all-star forward for the Phoenix Mercury basketball team, being stopped at Sheremetyevo International Airport. The 50-second edited video shows the 31-year-old athlete, who also won gold for the U.S. at the 2016 and 2021 Olympics, briefly standing in front of an airport official with a drug-sniffing dog before starting to walk away. The footage then cuts to Griner placing her luggage on the conveyor belt of an airport scanner, after which a Russian official pulls a package out of what appears to be her luggage, analyzes it, and places it in a secure bag.
WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia last month at a Moscow airport after a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges. Footage released Saturday shows the WNBA star going through security at a Moscow airport, and her luggage being searched. pic.twitter.com/Tuubab8Oko
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 6, 2022
In an emotional plea to followers on Instagram, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, also indicated that there are ongoing efforts to free Griner.
“I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life,” she wrote. “I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely.”
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. is already working to provide whatever help it can to get the athlete home but provided little detail.
“There’s only so much I can say given the privacy considerations at this point,” he said. “We have an embassy team that’s working on the cases of other Americans who are detained in Russia. We’re doing everything we can to see to it that their rights are upheld and respected.”
The news of Griner’s detention comes at a very tense time, just two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine. The act of war prompted quick sanctions from several nations, including the U.S., as well as private companies severing ties and business with Russia altogether.
The U.S. State Department announced Saturday that it will advise all Americans in Russia to leave immediately. The advisory cited “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials,” as the reason for the urgent message.
We will keep you posted on how the case evolves.