Skip to content
State Department says Griner’s release from Russia a priority

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is making the return of wrongfully detained Americans like basketball star Britney Griner his top priority, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday.

“We want to see this practice banned,” Price said, “whether in the case of Russia or any other country that wrongfully and unfairly detains Americans or third-country nationalists for political purposes.”

Griner was arrested in February for possession of cannabis oil. The WNBA star is facing a drug transportation charge that could carry a maximum sentence of 10 years if convicted. The trial began last Friday and is expected to resume Thursday.

On Monday, Griner sent a letter to US President Joe Biden asking him to “do everything possible” to get her and other Americans detained or held hostage in Russia home.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that Biden had read the letter.

Representatives for Griner shared portions of the letter on Monday.

“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, my family, my friends, my Olympic jersey or any achievement, I am terrified of be here forever,” Griner wrote.

When Price was asked if Blinken had been in contact with Britney Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner, Price said the two had spoken to each other in the past month and the State Department was in almost daily contact. with the wider Griner network.

“We don’t want to do or say anything that could potentially jeopardize the chances of seeing an American released,” Price said.

U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Monday that Griner was wrongfully detained and that the Biden administration “continues to work aggressively — using every means available — to bring her back.” At her place”.

Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard spoke to the media about the message sent by not yet bringing Griner home.

“If it was LeBron, he’d be home, right?” asked Nygaard. “It’s a statement about the value of women. It’s a statement about the value of a black person. It’s a statement about the value of a gay person. All of those things. We know that, and it’s so that’s what hurts a little more.”

Price sympathized with Nygaard, saying, “The hurt here is immense…I’m saying this from a person who can’t even imagine what Cherelle Griner is going through, what Britney Griner’s coach is going through, what her teammates and everyone who loves her.”

Some information for this report comes from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

USA voanews

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.