Russian state TV broadcasts undated arrest photo of Brittney Griner
The WNBA star is seen holding a sign bearing her name; she's still detained in a Russian jail more than three weeks after she was held.
WNBA star Brittney Griner remains detained in a Russian jail more than three weeks after being stopped at an airport, allegedly in possession of cannabis oil. On Tuesday, Russian state television broadcast a photo of the basketball star.
In the undated picture, she is holding a sign bearing her name.
The 31-year-old star has played for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason since 2014.
The photo of Griner and video segment about her arrest reportedly aired on Russian state television on Saturday. According to a CNN report, the clip featured an interview of a Russian official who said, via translation, “That the liquid is a narcotic drug — cannabis oil. A criminal case has been opened against an American citizen for smuggling a significant amount of drugs.”
If convicted, the basketball star could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
The United States State Department has said that it is working to bring Griner back to the U.S. among growing concerns that she could be used as a pawn during the growing tensions between Russia and America as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.
The WNBA released a statement of support for the Phoenix Mercury center, saying, “Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States,” per the Associated Press.
In that report Saturday, Griner agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said, “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. 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.”
According to AP, there is a “do not travel” advisory in place for Russia because of concern for “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials” and “the Embassy’s limited ability to assist” Americans in the country. All Americans have been urged to leave.
Griner was reportedly trying to do so when the cannabis oil was allegedly detected in her bag by a trained K-9 at a Moscow airport.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time WNBA All-Star won a WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury. Her wife, Cherelle Griner, shared a photo of the couple Sunday on Instagram, along with words of thanks to those sending them well-wishes.
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia,” she posted. “Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life. 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.”
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