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Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury v Los Angeles Sparks

Source: Leon Bennett / Getty

 

On April 27, people expressed uncertainty about the fate of WNBA star Brittney Griner following the release of retired U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was freed from Russian detainment after three years of imprisonment.

The Pheonix Mercury player, who was arrested on drug smuggling charges back in February, is scheduled to appear in front of a Russian court on May 19, but questions still loom if Russian authorities will hand the basketball player a hefty sentence or finally return her back to U.S. soil.

As MADAMENOIRE reported, Griner, who was playing with the Russian Women’s team UMMC Ekaterinburg for the last seven years during the WBNA off-season, was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport sometime in late February— after officials from the Russian Customs Service found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Drug sniffing canines detected the substance as she was walking through security screening and she was quickly placed in custody.

Griner’s legal team claimed the Biden administration was working diligently to free the two-time Olympic gold medalist and other detained Americans fighting for freedom, like former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who has been in prison in Russia for over 16 years on suspicion of espionage.

In the case of Reed, the former troop was detained in Russia in 2019 on endangerment charges after he allegedly compromised the life and health of a Russian police officer in Moscow. On Wednesday, Russian officials freed Reed in exchange for convicted Russian drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko who was serving time in Connecticut.

 

Brittney Griner’s wife reacts to Trevor Reed’s release

Following Reed’s release on Wednesday, senior administration officials said they are “very aware that there are other Americans held in Russia,” during a briefing, according to NBC News.

“We will continue to work on an attempt to find ways to address other cases as best we can,” they added.

On Instagram, Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner congratulated the Reed family on the big news, noting that while she did not know them personally, she could resonate with “the pain of having your loved one detained in a foreign country.”

Cherelle continued:

“That level of pain is constant and can only be remediated by a safe return home. For the Reed family, that day is today.”

 

White House officials have not released information on Griner’s release because of privacy concerns

Back in March, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki would not go into detail about Griner’s case or if her detainment was being used as a political bargaining tactic for Vladamir Putin.

“We typically do not get into specifics because that is not constructive to bringing people home,” Psaki clarified, theGrio noted.

“Our objective is always to bring American citizens home who are detained in foreign countries. So that will remain our focus.”

Psaki said that she wasn’t allowed to share further details about the case because there wasn’t a signed Privacy Act Waiver in place, which prohibits the U.S. Consular Office from releasing any information on the ball player’s situation unless Griner were to give written consent. Right now, the U.S. government has its hands tied in terms of helping Griner end her criminal prosecution in Russia because of strict diplomatic policies, especially as Russia continues to rage war against Ukraine, and as the U.S. places sanctions upon the country. If convicted, Griner faces up to 10 years in a Russian prison.

Social media users react to Trevor Reed’s release and Brittney Griner’s detainment

Social media users shared a ton of mixed reactions online following Reed’s release.

One social media user tweeted:

“It’s really wild that #BrittanyGriner is locked up over a vape pen and not one politician or athlete of prominence has spoken up.”

Radio host Emma Vigeland wrote:

 

While a third user asked:

“Where the hell is Brittney Griner?”

 

Griner’s detainment period was recently extended to May 19.

 

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