Listen to this article here
Sign-Up for a free subscription to The Black Wall Street Times‘ daily newsletter, Black Editors’ Edition (BEE) – our curated news selections & opinions by us for you.
After spending more than a month detained in Russia with no access to family, friends, or U.S. attorneys, WNBA star Brittney Griner has finally gained access to the U.S. Consulate and remains “in good condition,” according to the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
Officials with the U.S. embassy were able to gain access to Griner this week for the first time and confirmed her health has not deteriorated, according to a statement US State Department spokesman Ned Price gave to CNN on Wednesday.
Since mid-February, as Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine rages on, Brittney Griner has been detained in Moscow after airport security officials found a vape pen containing extracts of cannabis in her luggage.
While the charge would be minor in the U.S., Russian officials have charged Griner with drug trafficking. She faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
“We were able to check on her condition, we will continue to work very closely with her legal team, with her broader network, to see to it that she is treated fairly,” Price told CNN’s Poppy Harlow.
Brittney Griner, WNBA star, faces uncertain future in Russian detention
U.S. politicians from Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18) to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have called on the authoritarian president Vladimir Putin to release Brittney Griner.
“We know that there were some issues dealing with vape cartridges and other items, but let me be very clear, Brittney Griner is a United States citizen. She was a guest in Russia with the WNBA…and I will be demanding her release,” Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee previously said at a Houston press conference.
For her part, Hillary Clinton shared a tweet with the words “Free Brittney.”
Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner, a seven time WNBA all-star center, led the U.S. to two Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2021. She’s been playing in Russian during the offseason for Ekaterinburg since 2015, earning a much higher salary than she receives in the U.S.
She’s set to earn $228,000 with the Mercury in the 2022 season, according to Her Hoop Stats. That’s a far cry from the NBA average of $8.25 million, according to Run Repeat, which analyzes salaries in the NBA.
In Russia, Brittney Griner is able to earn closer to $1.5 million, nearly 10 times her salary for playing in the states.
The announcement of her condition is a welcome sign for her wife, family and loved ones. Yet, it’s clear there won’t be any sighs of relief until Brittney Griner is back on U.S. soil.