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

Update: July 7, 2022

Brittany Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian court on Thursday, nearly five months after her initial detention in the country on drug trafficking charges. The sentence is punishable by up to 10 years in Russian prison.

Brittany’s trial began last week and her plea came on the second day of hearing. Based on what a Reuters reporter revealed, she said in English, “I want to be guilty, your honour,” which was translated into Russian. Law.” According to news agency RIA Novosti, Brittany also told the court that she did not intend to commit a crime and that the drugs in her luggage were the result of hasty and hasty packing.

Now, at least two things could potentially happen: Britney could seek clemency or Russia could do a prisoner swap with the United States, reported new York Times. Obviously, the latter may be the best option to secure Britney’s return to America, but it’s still too soon to tell.

In February, Brittany was arrested at an airport near Moscow after less than a gram of cannabis oil was found in her luggage, Russian officials reported. according to new york times, Brittany He was charged with “possessing illegal drugs and smuggling a ‘significant amount’ of money.” She was in the country to play with its international basketball team, with which she competed since 2014 during the off-season of the WNBA.

The next date of hearing has been fixed for July 14.

Update: March 21, 2022

According to the Russian news agency TASS, the custody of Brittany Griner in Russia has been extended until May 19. NBC News, The extension would lengthen Brittany’s imprisonment by just over three months.

“The court accepted the plea for investigation and extended the detention of a US citizen” [Griner] Till May 19,” TASS reported.

During a hearing last week where the decision was made, Brittany’s lawyers not only challenged her detention, but also asked her to be placed under house arrest, a source said. NBC News, The source also mentioned that Britney’s pre-trial custody will continue as long as it takes time to fully investigate her case. According to ESPN, “this kind of delay is the norm in Russia and that” [Brittney] Can be held for a year or up to 18 months without trial in exceptional circumstances.

Ekaterina Kalugina, a representative of the Russian group investigating the country’s detainees, was quoted as saying that US officials had not come to see Britney, even though “the administration of the Pretrial Detention Center is ready to create all conditions for her visit.” is,” reported NBC News,

However, there appears to be a major discrepancy, as a spokesperson for the US State Department pointed out. NBC News That Britney has been “constantly denied access” to watching them, even after “repeatedly” asked. The State Department also issued a statement seeking access to Brittany and other US citizens in Russian custody. NBC News, Part of the statement read:

“We are in constant contact with Brittany Griner’s legal team on this matter. We insist that the Russian government provide consular access to all US civilian detainees in Russia, including those in pre-trial detention As is Brittany Griner.

Kalugina was also quoted as saying that Britney is “fine” and that her “physical condition is fine.” “I would even go so far as to say that she is quite calm and not worried,” she added.

Check back here for updates as this is a developing story.


Original Story: March 11, 2022

Seven-time WNBA All-Star Brittany Griner was traveling through an airport near Moscow — as she began playing overseas in Russia eight years ago — with vape of hashish oil in her luggage, according to Russian customs officials. Cartridges were found. Hashish oil is a highly concentrated form of THC, which is commonly used with vape pens and is considered a “narcotic” in Russia. Brittany was arrested on drug charges and has been in custody in Russia since February 17.

News of Britney’s arrest on March 5 first hit the US when Russian news outlet TASS identified Britney by name, according to new York Times, A booking photo of Brittany was broadcast on Russian state TV later that day; CNN image broadcast in one section. The Russian Federal Customs Service arrested Brittany but did not release her name. The agency said in a statement:

“While a US citizen was passing through the Green Channel at Sheremetyevo Airport on arrival from New York, a working dog from the Sheremetyevo Customs Canine Department detected the possible presence of narcotics in his accompanying baggage. Customs inspection of hand luggage being carried by a US citizen confirmed the presence of vapor with a particularly smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was hemp oil (hash oil), a narcotic. Is.

According to the Customs Service, a criminal case on drug trafficking has been opened. The punishment can be up to 10 years in prison.

After seven seasons, all of which have been with the Phoenix Mercury, Brittany is one of the highest-paid players in the WNBA. For the upcoming 2022 season, she will earn around $228,000—the league’s maximum salary. Like most of her colleagues, Brittany has been playing overseas during the league’s off-season since 2014 as opportunities to make more money internationally. It’s proven to be true: Britney earns about $1 million per season in Russia, according to the Associated Press, which It also noted that Brittany’s last game in Russia was on 29 January, just before the league went on a two-week break.

According to ESPN, other WNBA players competing in Russia and Ukraine were able to leave the countries safely. Brittany’s whereabouts are still unknown.

Texas Representative Colin Allred, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told ESPN he was making efforts to ensure Brittany’s safety and return home. “My office has been in contact with the State Department, and we are working with them to see what is the best way forward,” said Allred, who was also a student athlete at Baylor University like Brittany. “I know the administration is trying and trying hard to access him and try to be helpful here. But obviously, it’s also happening in the context of a really strained relationship. I think It is really unusual that we are not allowed to access it from our embassy and our consular services.”

He continued, “The Russian criminal justice system is very different than ours, very opaque. We don’t know too much about where he is in that process right now, but it’s been three weeks now, and it’s extremely is worrying.

Allred played football at Baylor from 2001 to 2005, and Houston-based Brittany played basketball for the Bears from 2009 to 2013. He helped the 2011–2012 team win the NCAA National Championship after a 40–0 season.

NCAA Women's Championship Game Notre Dame v Baylor

Justin EdmondsGetty Images

Allred explained that while Brittany is not the first American to be imprisoned in a Russian prison, the primary difference is that Brittany is a high-profile athlete, and there are fears that she may be used as a political pawn, particularly Given the international tension from now and President Joe Biden’s ban on Russian oil imports.

Countless people are rallying around Brittany, pleading for her safe and speedy return. There’s a Change.org petition with nearly 50,000 signatures, and current Baylor students holding “Free Britney” signs at recent women’s basketball games. The WNBA, its players’ union, the Phoenix Mercury and USA Basketball have all issued formal statements in support of Britney.

Brittany’s wife, Cherrell Griner, spoke out for the first time with a post on Instagram. He expressed his gratitude to loved ones and fans for their support and also asked for privacy during this devastating time.

“Thank you to everyone who reached out to me about my wife’s safe return from Russia,” the caption began. “Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. I love my wife with all my heart, so this message comes during one of the most vulnerable moments of my life. I understand that many of you have lived through the years.” Loving BG and have concerns and want details. Please respect our privacy as we continue to work to get my wife home safely.”

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Brittany’s agent Lindsey Kagawa Kolas issued a statement to ESPN on March 5, saying: “We are aware of the situation with Brittany Griner in Russia and with her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams and the WNBA.” We are in close contact with him. And the NBA. Since this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of his case, but can confirm that as we work to bring him home. His mental and physical health remains our primary concern.

Check back here for updates as this is a developing story.

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