WNBA Player, Brittney Griner, Detained in Russia for Vape Cartridges

By: Brianna Davila-Viera

Famous WNBA, Phoenix Mercury, basketball player, Brittney Griner, has been detained by Russian authorities under drug charges. Griner is being held under these drug charges, and if convicted can carry a maximum of 10 years in prison.

The Russian Federal Customs authorities had stated earlier this month that they had arrested the 31-year-old female basketball player after finding vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at an airport in Moscow earlier this February. 

The detainment came amid the escalating conflict created by the Russian invasion in Ukraine. 

The Russian authorities did not release the name of Griner, who was later identified as the individual through Russian State news agency, TASS.

The Texas native has been detained since Feb. 17, which has caused Representative Colin Allred to attempt to get the athlete released back to the United States, yet the Russian authorities have denied their request of releasing or having a meeting about the athlete.

Hillary Clinton has also called for her release after she retweeted a BBC article about the player’s predicament.

Details about Griner’s detention could not be disclosed because of privacy constraints. Griner’s family has expressed thoughts of her being released and returned home to them. 

Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner said in an Instagram post, “We love you babe!” and expressed how much she would like her wife back home.

Griner is also known for being a two-time Olympic Gold medalist. She is one of many WNBA basketball players who compete with the international team during the off season. Griner has played for the Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, since 2014.

TASS reported that Griner’s detention in Russia has been extended until May. 

“The court granted the petition of the investigation and extended the term of the US citizen (Griner) until May 19,” said TASS

It is said that Griner is sharing a cell with two other inmates that have no previous convictions and are charged with drug related items/articles. 

Ekaterina Kalugina, a member of the Public Monitoring Commission, told TASS that they have helped Griner order books such as a biography of Rolling Stones members and Dostoevsky. 

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, the United States has advised that all US citizens flee from Russia and has vocalized the severe limitations the US Embassy in Moscow could do for the citizens there.

The WNBA announced that all their other athletes have departed from Russia and Ukraine.

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