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Commenting on WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner’s detainment in Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the United States will provide assistance to any citizen being held on foreign soil.
Blinken said, according to ESPN:
“There’s only so much I can say given the privacy considerations at this point. Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we of course stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia.
“We have an embassy team that’s working on the cases of other Americans who are detained in Russia. We’re doing everything we can to see to it that their rights are upheld and respected.”
Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times reported Saturday that Griner had been detained by the Russian Federal Customs Service at an airport near Moscow in February after officials said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
The Phoenix Mercury center is still being held by the Russian Federal Customs Service. The Mercury released a statement Saturday saying the team is aware of the situation and that their main concern is getting Griner home safely:
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia. We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”
Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, also posted a message to Instagram, thanking supporters and asking for privacy as they continue to work on bringing the WNBA veteran home:
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life. I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely.”
Griner, like many WNBA players, competes in leagues overseas during the WNBA offseason. She last played for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg in January before the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League took a two-week break in February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournament.
The league resumed games Feb. 23.
Griner’s detainment comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions between the Russian government, the United States and several other countries.
The Mercury selected Griner first overall in the 2013 WNBA draft. She has starred for the team ever since, earning seven All-Star selections in nine seasons. The Baylor product is averaging 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 56.0 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from deep in 254 games.
The WNBA season is set to begin in May, and the Mercury will open the season against the Las Vegas Aces on May 6.
original source: U.S. Secretary of State: Brittney Griner Will Be Provided ‘Every Possible Assistance’