Filed Under: International

Brittney Griner detention extended as State Department meets with team

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According to Russian state news agency Tass, American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia has been extended once again. The latest extension, the third since she was originally detained back in February, means Griner will be in Russian custody until at least July 2.

In addition to the extended detention, Tass also reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia will not consider including Griner in a detainee swap “until a court investigation into her case is completed.” He was responding to media reports saying the Biden administration had offered to exchange convicted arms trader Viktor Bout for Griner.

“This case is problematic from top to bottom,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at his daily briefing Tuesday, telling reporters it was his understanding that department officials only learned of the extension through the Tass report. “It is precisely why we have characterized Brittney Griner as an unlawful detainee. It’s precisely why we are doing everything we can to seek and to affect her prompt release from Russian detention.”

Griner was detained after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. However last month, the department determined Griner was being held wrongfully. On Monday, the department met with members of Griner’s WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury.

“It was just nice to hear from the people at the very top knowing that they’re working relentlessly,” star Mercury guard Diana Taurasi said. “We’re here to do whatever we can to make sure we amplify and keep [Griner] at the forefront of the things that we want to do.”

In a statement posted to the Mercury’s Twitter account after the meeting, head coach Vanessa Nygaard added “she’s our teammate, she’s an American and we want her back home.”

After meeting with the department, the Mercury players and staff met with Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). Rep. Lee is from Griner’s hometown of Houston.

“For the team, coaches and executives at the Mercury, every day without Brittney is a lifetime,” Rep. Stanton said. “I was glad for the opportunity to share the work we’re doing in Congress to secure Brittney’s release.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jimmie Johnson: THE EFFORT TO GET AMERICAN WNBA STAR BRITTNEY GRINER OUT OF RUSSIAN DETENTION TOOK ANOTHER TURN TODAY.
GRINER WAS FIRST DETAINED IN FEBRUARY FOR HAVING VAPE CARTRIDGES THAT CONTAINED A CANNABIS DERIVATIVE.
TODAY, WE LEARNED HER DETENTION HAS BEEN EXTENDED UNTIL AT LEAST JULY 2ND.
THIS IS THE THIRD TIME IT’S BEEN EXTENDED.
THE NEWS COMES JUST A DAY AFTER MEMBERS OF THE PHOENIX MERCURY — MET WITH STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS.
THE DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN TASKED WITH BRINGING GRINER HOME AFTER DETERMINING SHE WAS WRONGFULLY DETAINED.
DIANA TAURASI | GUARD, PHOENIX MERCURY: “It was just nice to hear from the people at the very top knowing that they’re working relentlessly and, you know, we’re here to do whatever we can to make sure we amplify and keep BG at the forefront of the things that we want to do, which is more important than, you know, any basketball game and anything else that’s going on in our lives.”
Jimmie Johnson: THE MERCURY POSTED SEVERAL STATEMENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOWING THE MEETING.
HEAD COACH VANESSA NYGAARD SAID- “SHE’S OUR TEAMMATE, SHE’S AN AMERICAN AND WE WANT HER HOME.”
FOR NOW — GRINER AWAITS TRIAL — WHERE SHE COULD FACE UP TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON.
SOME HAVE SUGGESTED THE U-S CONDUCT A PRISONER SWAP WITH MOSCOW FOR RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER VIKTOR BOUT – BUT OFFICIALS IN BOTH COUNTRIES SAY THOSE REPORTS ARE PREMATURE.

According to Russian state news agency Tass, American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia has been extended once again. The latest extension, the third since she was originally detained back in February, means Griner will be in Russian custody until at least July 2.

In addition to the extended detention, Tass also reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia will not consider including Griner in a detainee swap “until a court investigation into her case is completed.” He was responding to media reports saying the Biden administration had offered to exchange convicted arms trader Viktor Bout for Griner.

“This case is problematic from top to bottom,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at his daily briefing Tuesday, telling reporters it was his understanding that department officials only learned of the extension through the Tass report. “It is precisely why we have characterized Brittney Griner as an unlawful detainee. It’s precisely why we are doing everything we can to seek and to affect her prompt release from Russian detention.”

Griner was detained after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. However last month, the department determined Griner was being held wrongfully. On Monday, the department met with members of Griner’s WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury.

“It was just nice to hear from the people at the very top knowing that they’re working relentlessly,” star Mercury guard Diana Taurasi said. “We’re here to do whatever we can to make sure we amplify and keep [Griner] at the forefront of the things that we want to do.”

In a statement posted to the Mercury’s Twitter account after the meeting, head coach Vanessa Nygaard added “she’s our teammate, she’s an American and we want her back home.”

After meeting with the department, the Mercury players and staff met with Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). Rep. Lee is from Griner’s hometown of Houston.

“For the team, coaches and executives at the Mercury, every day without Brittney is a lifetime,” Rep. Stanton said. “I was glad for the opportunity to share the work we’re doing in Congress to secure Brittney’s release.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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