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US officials believe Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained, negotiating her release

The U.S. government now considers WNBA star Brittney Griner to be “wrongfully detained”and are working on negotiating for her freedom.

Reem Abdalazem
Update:
Brittney Griner en un partido de las WNBA Finals con las Phoenix Mercury.
CHRISTIAN PETERSENAFP

The State Department and U.S. government now considers WNBA star Brittney Griner to be “wrongfully detained” and are working on negotiating for her freedom.

On Tuesday a department spokesperson said that “the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is among the highest priorities of the U.S government. The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner. With this determination, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the interagency team for securing Brittney Griner’s release.”

Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist who was arrested upon entering Russia in February to play basketball off-season for allegedly carrying hashish vape cartridges in her luggage.

The 31-year-old is facing drug charges that could lead up to 10 years in prison.

In March, the WNBA star met with a U.S. official in Russia when the government was pushing for access to Griner, and her pre-trial detention was extended to May 19.

An action to free Griner hs escalated last week after Marine veteran Trevor Reed was released from Russian prison as part of a prisoner exchange.

Women NBA to honor Brittney Griner

On Tuesday, the WNBA announced that the league will bear Griner’s initials and jersey number (42) on all WNBA Courts as the 2022 season kicks off this Friday.

Griner, who has been playing for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013,  is a seven-time WNBA All-Star.

Phoenix focused on Brittney Griner’s return

Jim Pitman, executive vice president and general manager of Phoenix, said in a statement on Tuesday that the franchise supports Griner and is focused on her return.

“In conjunction with the league, the other 11 teams, and those closest to BG, we will work to keep her top-of-mind as we tip the 2022 season,” he said. “While we await her return, our main concern remains for her safety and well-being.”

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