The two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner was visiting Russia to play basketball in her offseason. Last month, she was arrested at a Moscow area airport for allegedly having vape cartridges in her luggage containing hashish oil, an illegal substance in Russia. Griner, a Houston native, was reportedly detained one week before Russia invaded Ukraine. The attack escalated tensions between Russia and The U.S. Concerns over Griner are increasing, with some officials expressing worry that Griner and other Americans jailed in Russia could be used as leverage in the ongoing dispute.
According to Russian media reports, she faces drug charges with up to 10 years in prison.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan presented the issue of access to incarcerated Americans when he was summoned on Monday by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The WNBA star Brittney Griner met with U.S. officials on Wednesday. According to the U.S. State Department, this is the first time she has been able to be seen since being held in pretrial detention in Russia for over a month.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday
“she is doing as well as can be expected under these very difficult circumstances,”
“We will continue to work very closely with her legal team, with her broader network, to see to it that she is treated fairly and that her rights are respected,” he continued.
Former Marines Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan have also spent time in Russian custody. Their families and American officials say Russia fabricated actions to arrest them.
Last week, concerns were raised because Russia did not give U.S. officials access to Griner.
“The Russians are obligated to permit, to allow this type of consular access under the Vienna Convention,”
“We’re going to continue to insist that they allow us access to Brittney Griner just as we be permitted access to all Americans who are detained in Russia.” Price voiced.