Out American basketball player, Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia. The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) All-Star was arrested in Moscow last month. There were fears that Russia, which faces sanctions for invading Ukraine last month, could use Griner as a hostage. 

According to the New York Times, the Russian Federal Customs Service released a video on Saturday, March 5, claiming that they had detained Griner after finding vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her checked baggage.

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According to the Russian Customs Service, drug-sniffing dogs alerted them to the presence of a banned substance and a subsequent search uncovered the vape cartridges.

Up to 10 Years in Prison

Under Russian law, if convicted, Griner can spend five to 10 years in prison. 

Griner’s wife, Cherelle, in a post on Instagram, thanked the public for their support. She said, “Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia. 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.” 

Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s agent, said in a statement, “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 W.N.B.A. and N.B.A.

“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.”

‘US Citizens Are Not Political Pawns’

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Texas Congressman, Joaquin Castro, tweeted, “I’m closely monitoring reports of Texan @brittneygriner’s detention in Russia. This follows a pattern of Russia wrongly detaining & imprisoning US citizens, including Trevor Reed. US citizens are not political pawns. Brittney, Trevor, and other Americans must be safely returned.”

Griner’s arrest comes amid heightened tensions between the USA and Russia due to  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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