Russia Arrests WNBA Star Brittney Griner for Cannabis

Russia announced on Saturday that WNBA player Brittney Griner has been arrested for possession of cannabis vape cartridges, an offense that could subject matter the All-Star athlete to a prison sentence of up to 10 a long time. Griner’s arrest comes in the midst of a war amongst Russia and Ukraine, which commenced with an invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The Russian Customs Assistance stated on Saturday that a women’s basketball participant from the United States experienced been detained just after the cannabis vape cartridges were found in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport in close proximity to Moscow, whilst Griner was not discovered by identify, and the date of the arrest was not specified. The customs company also released a online video that seems to depict Griner producing her way via an airport protection checkpoint.

The Russian news agency TASS then claimed that the arrested player was Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Although the day of Griner’s arrest was not declared, media outlets documented that she has been in custody due to the fact February. Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s agent, appeared to affirm studies of the arrest in a statement on Saturday.

“We are conscious of the scenario with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in shut make contact with with her, her authorized illustration in Russia, her spouse and children, her groups and the WNBA and NBA,” Kagawa Colas reported. “As this is an ongoing lawful subject, we are not ready to comment further on the specifics of her situation but can verify that as we perform to get her household, her psychological and actual physical health and fitness continue being our major problem.”

WNBA Star Player

Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, performed on the Mercury’s league championship workforce in 2014 and has been decided on as a league All-Star seven times. She was in Russia to engage in the winter season basketball year, a exercise typical with lots of WNBA players. She has played in Russia for the last seven seasons earning far more than $1 million for each 12 months, about four periods her annual wage with the WNBA. On January 29, she played her most new game with her staff UMMC Ekaterinburg right before the Russian league took a two-7 days break for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.

“Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s complete support, and our most important priority is her swift and harmless return to the United States,” the league stated in a assertion on Saturday.

More than a dozen WNBA gamers, together with league MVP Jonquel Jones and two players from the league winner Chicago Sky, Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley, have been in Ukraine and Russia to enjoy basketball this winter season. The WNBA said on Saturday that all players apart from Griner experienced still left the two warring nations around the world. The players’ union also issued a statement of help on Monday.

“We are informed of the problem in Russia relating to just one of our members, Brittney Griner. Our utmost concern is BG’s safety and well-getting,” the WNBAPA explained. “On behalf of The 144, we deliver our like and assist. We will proceed to carefully monitor and search forward to her return to the U.S.”

Russia and Ukraine At War

Griner’s arrest comes in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, perhaps entwining her in an ongoing diplomatic row amongst the United States and Russia. On Saturday, the very same day that information of Griner’s arrest produced headlines, the U.S. Point out Section issued a journey advisory warning Us citizens not to journey to Russia, citing “the probable for harassment from U.S. citizens by Russian authorities security officials” and “the Embassy’s constrained capability to assist” Us residents in the nation.

News of Griner’s arrest drew swift rebuke from U.S. officers. Democratic Agent Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Griner’s hometown of Houston in the U.S. Residence of Associates, issued a assertion around the weekend contacting for her release. 

“We know that there have been some concerns dealing with vape cartridges and other objects, but permit me be very clear,” she reported at a public party Saturday, “Brittney Griner is a United States citizen she was a guest in Russia … and I will be demanding her release.”

Texas Democratic Agent Joaquin Castro took to social media to desire Griner’s release.

“This follows a pattern of Russia wrongly detaining and imprisoning US citizens, such as Trevor Reed,” Castro wrote on Twitter. “US citizens are not political pawns. Brittney, Trevor and other Individuals have to be properly returned,” he added, referring to Griner and a previous U.S. Maritime who was sentenced in 2020 to nine several years in jail for assaulting two police officers. His spouse and children claims the expenses are untrue and politically inspired.

Michael A. McFaul, a previous U.S. ambassador to Russia, warned any People remaining in Russia to go away the country quickly.

“I of course do not know the circumstances of her detention, but Griner’s arrest need to serve as a wake-up call to all Americans in Russia,” McFaul informed the New York Occasions. “Get out. Shut down your firms now.”