September 28, 2022

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Britney Greiner: It will be “extremely difficult” to get the imprisoned NBA star out of Russia, a lawmaker said

Britney Greiner: It will be "extremely difficult" to get the imprisoned NBA star out of Russia, a lawmaker said

Griner, 31, is a champion with WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and spends her seasons playing for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg.

The Russian Federal Customs Service said that an American at Sheremetyevo airport was carrying cannabis oil. The Russian Interfax news agency quoted a statement of the customs service, which did not name the traveler by name:

“While an American citizen was passing through the Green Channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arrival from New York, a working dog of the Sheremetyevo Canine Administration discovered the possibility of narcotics in the accompanying baggage,” the statement said.

He added that “the customs inspection of the handbags carried by the American citizen confirmed the presence of smoke containing a special smelling liquid, and one of the experts determined that the liquid was hashish oil (cannabis oil), which is a narcotic substance.”

The customs department said the arrest took place in February, but the exact date was not disclosed. New York times He was the first to report the arrest of Greiner. Her whereabouts since her arrest remain uncertain.
Griner’s plight comes in the name of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine He is in his second week. President Vladimir Putin He issued a series of threats On Saturday, against Ukraine and Western powers, saying the sanctions against his country were “equivalent to declaring war”.

“It would be very difficult” to get Grenier out of Russia, said a member of the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

“Our diplomatic relations with Russia do not exist at the moment,” Democratic Representative John Garamendi of California told CNN on Monday.

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“Maybe during the various negotiations that might take place, you might be able to be one of the solutions. I don’t know.”

He also noted that “Russia has some very strict rules and laws about LGBT people” – although it’s not clear if these rules and laws might affect Grenier’s case.

Hundreds march to release Greiner

More than 1,000 people have signed the petition “The Fast and Safe Return of Britney Greiner to the United States” on change.org.

Journalist Tamrine Spruehl, who covers women’s basketball, began filing the petition online on Saturday.

“Greener is a beloved global citizen who has used her platform since entering the WNBA to help others,” Spruell wrote on the petition’s webpage.

Greiner was in Russia for work: she was playing at UMMC Ekaterinburg, where in 2021 she helped the team win the fifth Women’s Euroleague.

Spruell explained why so many professional basketball players in the United States work abroad. “Like many athletes competing in the WNBA, Griner plays abroad during the WNBA offseason because her salary is significantly higher in other countries,” Spruell wrote.

For WNBA players, that means playing abroad, while NBA rookies who haven’t played a professional game yet are getting paid many times higher than what WNBA All-Star veterans could hope for, the petition says. “. .

“These facts are not the players’ fault. They simply want to make their fortune like their male counterparts, and they don’t deserve to be embroiled in geopolitical turmoil for doing so.”

unknown future

Greiner’s wife, Cheryl Greiner, described the agony of waiting on Instagram. “I am in pain. We are in pain. We are waiting for the day we love you as a family.” Posted by Cherelle Griner Posted by Monday.

On Saturday, she thanked her supporters in a post and asked for privacy.

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“I understand that many of you have grown up to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details,” Cherelle Griner wrote. “Please respect our privacy as we continue to work to get my wife home safely.”

But Greiner’s fate remains unclear.

The Interfax news agency, citing the Russian Customs Service, reported that a criminal case had been opened against the detained American citizen.

A US State Department spokesman said the agency was “aware of reports of the arrest of a US citizen in Moscow”.

“When a US citizen is arrested abroad, we are prepared to provide all appropriate consular services,” the spokeswoman told CNN on Saturday.

CNN has reached out to a Griner representative for comment.

Her high school basketball coach, Debbie Jackson, remembers Greiner as an athlete of determination and determination.

But Jackson told CNN she was concerned that the Grenier case would be used for political purposes.

“My biggest fear is … that it will become a political pawn,” Jackson said.

Playing in Russia for years

Griner has played for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2015 during the WNBA offseason. In five games this season, she has averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

star player, Who won the WNBA Championship With Mercury in 2014, he averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season with Phoenix.

Two-time FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Championship medalist with Team USA.

Team USA Basketball, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Mercury and the WNBA Players Association have publicly shared their concerns with Griner.

The NBA, the US sport’s governing body, said it “is aware and closely monitors the legal situation Britney Grenier faces in Russia. Britney has always treated herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with NBA and her safety and well-being are our concerns.” the basic “.

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The WNBA said Griner has “full support,” adding that its main priority is her “rapid and safe return to the United States.”

The Women’s National Basketball Association said it was “aware of the situation in Russia regarding one of our members, Brittney Grenier.”

“What we care most about is BG’s safety and well-being,” said the WNBPA. “We will continue to monitor closely and look forward to her return to the United States.”

The Phoenix Mercury said it is “closely monitoring the situation with Britney Grenier in Russia” as they remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and the 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.”

CNN’s Rosa Flores and Lisa France contributed to this report.