Why Is Brittney Griner Detained in Russia? The Situation, Explained

Replace: August 4, 2022

Regardless of the White Home’s speak of a prisoner swap in change for her freedom, Brittney Griner has been convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to 9 years in a Russian jail.

Brittney’s attorneys mentioned they may enchantment the decision, calling it “completely unreasonable” as it’s simply narrowly beneath the ten yr most sentence. Previous to the decision, Brittney mentioned:

“I by no means meant to harm anyone, I by no means meant to place in jeopardy the Russian inhabitants, I by no means meant to interrupt any legal guidelines right here. I made an sincere mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it does not finish my life right here. I do know all people retains speaking about political pawn and politics, however I hope that, that’s removed from this courtroom. I wish to say once more that I had no intent on breaking any Russian legal guidelines. I had no intent. I didn’t conspire or plan to commit this crime.”

The U.S. State Division has maintained that Brittney has been wrongfully detained. The tough sentence has sparked outrage and grief internationally at what many are calling a response to the tense geopolitical relations between america and Russia.

U.S. officers and the White Home have been engaged on a doable prisoner change that might convey Brittney dwelling for the primary time since she was detained in February, nevertheless it stays to be seen whether or not it’s going to succeed.

Replace: July 7, 2022

Brittney Griner pleaded responsible to drug costs in Russian courtroom on Thursday, roughly 5 months after her preliminary detainment within the nation for drug smuggling costs. The punishment carries as much as 10 years in Russian jail.

The basketball star’s trial began final week, and her plea got here on the second day of the listening to. “I’d prefer to plead responsible, your honor,” she mentioned in English, which was translated into Russian by an interpreter, primarily based on what a Reuters reporter revealed. “However there was no intent. I didn’t wish to break the regulation.” Brittney additionally informed the courtroom that she didn’t imply to commit a criminal offense and that the medication in her baggage had been the results of hurried and rushed packing, in line with information company RIA Novosti.

Now, at the very least two issues can probably occur: Brittney can ask for clemency or Russia may do a prisoner swap with america, in line with the New York Occasions. Apparently, the latter could also be the most suitable choice to safe Brittney’s return to America, nevertheless it’s nonetheless far too quickly to inform.

In February, Brittney was arrested at an airport close to Moscow after lower than a gram of hashish oil was present in her baggage, reported Russian officers. In response to the New York Occasions, Brittney was charged with “unlawful drug possession and with smuggling a ‘important quantity.’” She was within the nation to play together with her worldwide basketball workforce, who she’s been competing with since 2014 through the WNBA’s off-seasons.

The subsequent listening to day is scheduled for July 14.

Replace: March 21, 2022

Brittney Griner’s detainment in Russia has been prolonged to Might 19, in line with Russian information company TASS, reported NBC Information. The extension would make Brittney’s imprisonment simply over three months lengthy.

“The courtroom granted the petition of the investigation and prolonged the time period of detention of U.S. citizen [Griner] till Might 19,” reported TASS.

In the course of the listening to final week the place this choice was made, Brittney’s attorneys not solely challenged her detainment but in addition requested for her to be placed on home arrest as a substitute, defined a supply to NBC Information. The supply additionally talked about that Brittney’s pretrial detainment will proceed to get extended for so long as it takes to completely examine her case. In response to ESPN, “Such delays are normal in Russia and that [Brittney] could also be held with out trial for as much as a yr or as much as 18 months in extraordinary circumstances.”

Ekaterina Kalugina, a consultant of the Russian group that checks in on the nation’s detainees, was quoted saying that U.S. officers had not come to see Brittney though “the administration of the pretrial detention middle is able to create all circumstances for his go to,” reported NBC Information.

There appears to be a big discrepancy right here although, as a result of a spokesperson for the U.S. State Division informed NBC Information that they’ve “constantly been denied entry” to see Brittney even after “repeatedly” asking for it. The State Division even launched a press release demanding entry to Brittney and different U.S. residents in Russia’s custody, in line with NBC Information. A part of the assertion learn:

“We’re intently engaged on this case and in frequent contact with Brittney Griner’s authorized workforce. We insist the Russian authorities present consular entry to all U.S. citizen detainees in Russia, together with these in pretrial detention, as Brittney Griner is.”

Kalugina was additionally quoted saying that Brittney is “holding up superb” and that her “bodily situation is okay.” She added, “I’d even say that she is pretty calm and isn’t anxious.”

Test again right here for updates as this can be a growing story.

Authentic story: March 11, 2022

As seven-time WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was touring via an airport close to Moscow—as she’s completed since starting to play abroad in Russia eight years in the past—vape cartridges of cannabis oil had been present in her baggage, in line with Russian customs officers. Cannabis oil is a extremely concentrated type of THC, sometimes used with vape pens and is taken into account a “narcotic substance” in Russia. Brittney was arrested on drug costs and has been detained in Russia since February 17.

Information first broke within the U.S. about Brittney’s arrest on March 5 after the Russian information outlet TASS recognized Brittney by title, in line with the New York Occasions. A reserving picture of Brittney was later aired on Russian State TV the identical day; CNN aired the image in a phase. The Russian Federal Customs Service arrested Brittney however didn’t launch her title. The company mentioned in a press release:

“As a U.S. citizen was passing via the inexperienced channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York, a working canine from the Sheremetyevo Customs canine division detected the doable presence of narcotic substances within the accompanying baggage. The customs inspection of the hand baggage being carried by the U.S. citizen confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically-smelling liquid, and an skilled decided that the liquid was hashish oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance.”

A legal case has been opened on drug smuggling, per the Customs Service. The punishment could be as much as 10 years in jail.

After seven seasons, all of which have been with the Phoenix Mercury, Brittney is among the WNBA’s highest-paid gamers. For the upcoming 2022 season, she’s going to earn practically $228,000—the league’s most wage. Like most of her colleagues, Brittney has been enjoying abroad since 2014 through the league’s low season as a result of there are alternatives to make considerably more cash internationally. It’s confirmed true: Brittney makes roughly $1 million a season in Russia, in line with the Related Press, which additionally talked about that Brittney’s final recreation in Russia was on January 29, proper earlier than the league went on break for 2 weeks.

The opposite WNBA gamers competing in Russia and Ukraine had been in a position to go away the international locations safely, in line with ESPN. Brittney’s whereabouts are nonetheless unknown.

Texas Consultant Colin Allred, a Home International Affairs Committee member, informed ESPN that he’s been making efforts to make sure Brittney’s security and return dwelling. “My workplace has been in contact with the State Division, and we’re working with them to see what’s the easiest way ahead,” mentioned Allred, who additionally was a pupil athlete at Baylor College like Brittney. “I do know the administration is working exhausting to attempt to get entry to her and attempt to be useful right here. However clearly, it’s additionally occurring within the context of actually strained relations. I do suppose that it’s actually uncommon that we’ve not been granted entry to her from our embassy and our consular companies.”

He continued, “The Russian legal justice system could be very completely different than ours, very opaque. We don’t have a whole lot of perception into the place she is in that course of proper now, however she’s been held for 3 weeks now, and that’s extraordinarily regarding.”

Allred performed soccer at Baylor from 2001 to 2005, and Brittney, a Houston native, performed basketball for the Bears from 2009 to 2013. She helped the 2011–2012 workforce win the NCAA Nationwide Championship after an ideal 40-0 season.

Justin EdmondsGetty Photos

Allred defined that whereas Brittney isn’t the primary American to be held in Russian imprisonment, the first distinction is that Brittney’s a high-profile athlete, and there are fears that she could possibly be used as a political pawn, particularly contemplating the worldwide tensions proper now and President Joe Biden’s ban on Russian oil imports.

Numerous folks have been rallying round Brittney and urging for her protected and expeditious return. There’s a petition with practically 50,000 signatures, and present Baylor college students have been holding “Free Brittney” indicators at current girls’s basketball video games. The WNBA, its gamers’ union, the Phoenix Mercury, and USA Basketball all have launched formal statements in assist of Brittney.

Brittney’s spouse Cherelle Griner spoke out for the primary time with a submit on Instagram. She expressed gratitude to family members and followers for his or her assist and in addition requested for privateness throughout this understandably devastating time.

“Thanks to everybody who has reached out to me concerning my spouse’s protected return from Russia,” started the caption. “Your prayers and assist are tremendously appreciated. I really like my spouse wholeheartedly, so this message comes throughout one of many weakest moments of my life. I perceive that a lot of you may have grown to like BG through the years and have issues and need particulars. Please honor our privateness as we proceed to work on getting my spouse dwelling safely.”

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Brittney’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas launched a press release to ESPN on March 5, saying: “We’re conscious of the state of affairs with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in shut contact together with her, her authorized illustration in Russia, her household, her groups and the WNBA and NBA. As that is an ongoing authorized matter, we aren’t in a position to remark additional on the specifics of her case however can verify that as we work to get her dwelling, her psychological and bodily well being stay our major concern.”

Test again right here for updates as this can be a growing story.

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