Brittney Griner: US State Department now classifies WNBA player as “wrongfully detained” in Russia

The SPEHA office guides and coordinates the government’s diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Americans unjustly detained abroad. They played an important role in securing the release of the US citizen and former marine Trevor Reed from Russia last week.
Brittney Griner: 'He's the boldest hostage a state can imagine,' says the former prisoner

“When it comes to our efforts to free the Americans, the presidential special envoy for hostage affairs, Ambassador Carstens, will go anywhere, will talk to anyone if it means that we will be able to go home with an American, for reunite that American with you or your family, “State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA Phoenix Mercury player, was arrested in February at a Moscow airport and accused by Russian authorities of smuggling significant quantities of a drug, a crime punishable up to 10 years. of prison.

He plays for Russian powerhouse UMMC Yekaterinburg during the WNBA off-season.

Griner assists during the United States match against Serbia at last year's Tokyo Olympics.

On Tuesday, the WNBA said it will honor Griner during the 2022 season with his initials (BG) and jersey number (42) on the sidelines of all 12 home fields.

“As the 2022 season begins, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.

“We continue to work to bring Brittney home and appreciate the support the community has shown to BG and her family during this extraordinarily difficult time.”

Last season, Griner finished second in the Most Valuable Player Award vote. He led Mercury to the WNBA Finals, where Phoenix lost to the Chicago Sky in four games.

The WNBA season starts on Friday and Phoenix begins his home season against the Las Vegas Aces.