Division of State says a US diplomat was in a position to go to Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since final month.
A United States diplomat in Moscow has been in a position to go to detained US basketball star Brittney Griner, the Division of State stated, discovering her in “good situation” after a number of weeks in Russian custody.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and All-Star centre within the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA), was detained on the airport within the Russian capital in mid-February on costs of carrying vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her baggage.
Her detention comes at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the US over the persevering with Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the administration of US President Joe Biden has been pushing for entry to Griner.
“An official from our embassy has been granted consular entry to Brittney Griner. We have been in a position to test on her situation,” Division of State spokesman Ned Value stated on Wednesday.
“Our official discovered Brittney Griner to be in good situation and we’ll proceed to do every part we are able to to see to it that she is handled pretty all through this ordeal,” he added.
Griner, 31, was in Russia to play membership basketball earlier than the US season resumed, a standard follow for gamers, who can earn a lot larger salaries in international leagues than on home groups. She performed in Russia for the final seven years within the winter, incomes greater than $1m per season — greater than quadruple her WNBA wage.
Russian media reported final week that her detention was prolonged till Could 19. She faces as much as 10 years in jail.
Ekaterina Kalugina of the regional Public Monitoring Fee, a state-backed panel in Russia that screens prisoners’ circumstances, instructed the TASS information company that Griner was sharing a cell with two different feminine detainees accused of narcotics offences.
Griner’s cellmates spoke English and have been serving to her to speak with workers on the pretrial detention facility and to acquire books, Kalugina stated.
“The one goal drawback has turned out to be the basketball participant’s top,” Tass quoted Kalugina as saying of the six-foot 9-inch (206cm) Griner. “The beds within the cell are clearly meant for an individual of lesser top.”
In the meantime, Washington has to date saved a low profile on her case amid fears Griner could also be used as a pawn in its dispute with Moscow over the struggle in Ukraine.
“Regardless of the consequence of her case, which is ongoing, there’s each motive to worry she has turn into a pawn within the bigger standoff between two superpowers,” The Washington Publish newspaper’s editorial board wrote on Tuesday, warning that the Russian judicial system “is a hostile and doubtful discussion board for … Griner to seek out justice”.
The board additionally wrote, “The truth that Ms. Griner is homosexual — she is the primary overtly homosexual athlete to be endorsed by Nike — is trigger for even deeper fear on condition that LGBTQ individuals face open hostility and repression from Russian authorities.”
We can not ignore the truth that if Brittney Griner wasn’t a Black lady, it could be plastered throughout the information that she is being held as a political prisoner in Russia.
Free Brittney Griner.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) March 17, 2022
Whereas observers have famous the sensitivity of Griner’s scenario – and her spouse, Cherelle Griner’s name for privateness because the household works to get her dwelling safely – some even have questioned why the detention of considered one of basketball’s most proficient gamers has drawn such muted responses.
“We can not ignore the truth that if Brittney Griner wasn’t a Black lady, it could be plastered throughout the information that she is being held as a political prisoner in Russia,” US Congresswoman Cori Bush wrote final week on Twitter. “Free Brittney Griner.”
The WNBA stated on Wednesday that it continued to work with authorities officers and others to get her dwelling safely.
“This continues to be a fancy scenario that’s extraordinarily troublesome for Brittney, her household and all who’re hoping for a swift decision,” the league stated in a press release.
Griner’s crew, the Phoenix Mercury, additionally stated in a separate assertion in early March that it was “intently monitoring” the scenario. “We stay in fixed contact together with her household, her illustration, the WNBA and NBA. We love and assist Brittney and right now our predominant concern is her security, bodily and psychological well being, and her protected return dwelling.”