The State Department has issued more details about the ongoing case of WNBA star Brittney Griner. In a surprising turn of events, the agency announced the basketball player was being wrongfully detained in Russia.
According to CNN, Griner’s case will now be handled by the office of the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA.) The department leads and coordinates the Government’s diplomatic endeavors pertaining to the release of wrongfully detained prisoners overseas or other hostage-related matters.
What does this mean for the basketball star’s release?
The news outlet noted that the department has the authority to pursue action against the case through negotiation and won’t have to wait for Griner’s Russian legal proceedings to play out, hopefully making her long-awaited return back to U.S soil a near-distant reality. The legal fight will be led by State Department official Roger Carstens and his team, the same officials who helped free retired U.S. Marine Trevor Reed from Russia earlier this month.
“When it comes to our efforts to free Americans, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Ambassador Carstens, he will go anywhere, he will talk to anyone if it means that we’re able to come home with an American, to reunite that American with her or his family,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price shared in a statement on May 2.
“But typically, and I don’t believe this will change, in order to, to leave the space to have an outcome we all want and desire, which is to bring her and any Americans detained or unjustifiably detained home, we typically don’t talk about it extensively.”
The WNBA is optimistic about Griner’s case
“BG is in the top of our thoughts all the time, and we’re just hoping that she’s safe and that she’s gonna come home quickly,” Nygaard said, according to ESPN.
“That’s still our main concern is our sister. Obviously, the season is starting and we’re dedicating this season to her until she gets back with us,” Diggins-Smith said.
“We think about her every day. We love her and we’re gonna continue to carry her legacy, her voice and play in her honor until she gets back here with us.”
The WNBA called the news “a positive development and a next step to getting her home,” adding:
“The WNBA is in constant communication with the U.S. government on Brittney’s case, working together to get her home safe and as soon as possible.”
“We continue to work on bringing Brittney home and are appreciative of the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily challenging time.”