The NBA and WNBA have joined forced to free Brittney Griner from Russia
In a joint effort, the two professional basketball leagues are working alongside the U.S. State Department to free Griner from a Russian prison cell.
With recent reports confirming that the WNBA star now faces an additional month in a Russian prison, the NBA has now joined the efforts to bring her home.
NBA working with WNBA to free Brittney Griner
According to comments made by NBA commissioner Adam Silver Tuesday, he and the league are now working “side by side” with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert to secure the freedom of the Phoenix Mercury star and of course bring her home. Speaking in a televised interview, Silver said his league was following the advice of experts when it did not take an aggressive approach during the early stages of Griner’s detention in Russia. “We’ve been in touch with the White House, the State Department, hostage negotiators, every level of government and also through the private sector as well,” Silver said. “Our No. 1 priority is her health and safety and making sure that she gets out of Russia.”
U.S. State Department weighs in on Brittney Griner situation
Having previously declared that they are also working toward Griner’s release the State Department also gave comment on Tuesday, confirming that they are continuing to push for regular contact with the seven time WNBA All-Star. It is understood that an official from the American consulate was actually able to meet with Griner last week, after her detention in Russia was extended by one month. In Russian custody since February, U.S. officials believe and have stated that Griner has been wrongfully detained by the Kremlin. Officially, Griner’s incarceration came as a result of vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis being found in her luggage at an airport in Moscow.
“That consular official came away with the impression that Brittney Griner is doing as well as might be expected under conditions that can only be described as exceedingly difficult,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in Washington. “But sporadic contact is not satisfactory. It also may not be consistent with the Vienna Convention to which Russia has subscribed.”
Brittney Griner faces an uncertain future
A two time Olympic gold medalist for her country, the 31-year-old American now faces an ominous situation with drug smuggling charges against her which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if she is convicted. Where the Biden administration is concerned, they have been adamant that Griner is being wrongfully detained. To date the WNBA has been working alongside government officials, however, there has been no discernible progress in Griner’s case. According to Price, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has had a conversation with Griner’s wife in recent days, thereby bringing her up to speed on what is happening.
“He conveyed once again the priority we attach to seeking the release of all Americans around the world, including Brittney Griner in the case of Russia, Paul Whelan in the case of Russia, those Americans who we consider to be wrongfully detained,” Price said. “That has been a priority of Secretary Blinken since the earliest days of his tenure.” Where Whelan is concerned, the now detained corporate security executive was arrested in December of 2018 and has been held since. Whelan was apparently visiting Russia for a friend’s wedding when he was detained and later sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage related offenses. His family continues to deny all allegations.