Russia shares photo of WNBA star Brittney Griner in custody

Ms Griner plays for both the WNBA and a team in Russia

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 08 March 2022 23:24 GMT

Related video: American basketball star Brittney Griner is detained in Russian airport

Russian officials have released a photo of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is currently jailed in Moscow after she was arrested for allegedly transporting drugs.

Ms Griner was taken into custody weeks ago at Moscow's airport after returning to Russia from New York. Hashish oil was allegedly found in her bags by Russian customs agents.

The photo was broadcast on Russian state TV on Tuesday, and shows Ms Griner holding a piece of paper. Due to the low quality of the image it is difficult to determine what is written on the sheet of paper.

Russian officials also released surveillance video that captured the moment she was detained at the Moscow airport.

Ms Griner was in Russia because in addition to her time playing in the WNBA, she also plays on a team in Russia. This is a common practice for WNBA players, as Russia’s basketball season runs opposite the US’. Many professional athletes supplement their incomes by competing internationally during season breaks in the US.

Follow the latest news from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine here.

All of the other US players competing in Russia have left.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the State Department was working to get legal representation for Ms Griner and two other Americans jailed in Russia. The State Department cannot represent Ms Griner directly.

WNBA star Brittney Griner appearing in a photo released by Russian officials following her detainment in Moscow. Ms Griner is accused by Russian law enforcement of trying to transport drugs.

Due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, there are fewer flights out of Russia available. That trend will likely to continue the longer the invasion lasts.

American basketball star Brittney Griner is detained in Russian airport

Ms Griner’s loved ones are working to try to secure her release while flights are still available.

The WNBA star faces up to 10 years in prison if a deal cannot bet struck between Russia and the US. Unfortunately for Ms Griner, the ongoing war in Ukraine has likely made any negotiations for her release more difficult.

Tom Firestone, who spent 14 years as the resident legal adviser at the US Embassy in Moscow, told Yahoo Sports that a bargain would be tough to navigate in the current political climate.

“Whatever kind of bargain could normally be worked out at the political level is going to be much harder to work out right now,” he said. “We’re as close to cutting off diplomatic relations as you can be without actually cutting off diplomatic relations. That’s not a good environment to negotiate the release of a detainee.”

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