Brittney Griner, two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA all-star, arrested in Russia on drug charges
Brittney Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time Women’s National Basketball Association All-Star with the Phoenix Mercury basketball team, has been arrested in Russia after customs officials detected cannabis oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow, The New York Times reported.
The Russian Federal Customs Service did not identify the woman as Griner in a statement quoted in a report from Russia’s Interfax News Agency, which reads: “‘As a US citizen was passing through the green channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York, a working dog from the Sheremetyevo Customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage.'”
“‘The customs inspection of the hand luggage being carried by the US citizen confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance,'” the customs service said in the statement.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its second week, President Vladimir Putin on Saturday issued a series of threats against Ukraine and Western powers, saying the sanctions introduced on his country are “equivalent of a declaration of war.”
Interfax, citing the customs service, said the US citizen was detained and arrested and noted a criminal case has been opened against her.
A spokesperson for the State Department told CNN Saturday, “We are aware of reports of a US citizen arrested in Moscow. Whenever a US citizen is arrested overseas, we stand ready to provide all appropriate consular services.”
Griner currently plays for the Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg. Griner has played with the team since 2015 during the WNBA offseason. In five games this season, she is averaging 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
The star player, who won the WNBA championship with the Mercury in 2014, averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season with Phoenix. Griner is also a two-time medalist at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Championship with Team USA.
CNN has reached out to Griner’s representative for comment.
USA Basketball, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the Mercury and the WNBA players’ union publicly shared their concerns for Griner.
USA Basketball, the governing body for sport in the United States, said in a statement it is “aware of and closely monitoring the legal situation facing Brittney Griner in Russia. Brittney has always handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball and her safety and wellbeing are our primary concerns.”
The WNBA said Griner has its “full support,” adding its main priority is “her swift and safe return to the United States.”
The Phoenix Mercury said it is “closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia” as they 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.”
The women’s National Basketball Players Association said in a statement it is “aware of the situation in Russia concerning one of our members, Brittney Griner. Our utmost concern is BG’s safety and well-being. On behalf of The 144, we send our love and support. We will continue to closely monitor and look forward to her return to the US.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated when Griner was arrested. She was detained by Russian customs officials in February.
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