Sad but utterly predictable..
WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner has been in custody in Russia for at least a week in the wake of officials at Moscow airport finding what they said was cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage.
- The WNBA says it is hoping for Griner’s swift, safe return
- The Russian Customs Service has not confirmed the date of her arrest
- Griner has played in Russia for several years in the WNBA off-season
The Russian Customs Service said on Saturday she had cartridges that contained oil derived from cannabis — an offence that could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Without identifying Griner, a centre for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, said a player was detained in February after arriving at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on a flight from New York.
Russian news agency TASS identified the player as Griner, citing a source.
The Phoenix Mercury team, without elaborating, said: “We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia.”
It was not clear when in February Griner was detained. The player is still in custody and an investigation is underway, the customs service says.
“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said.
On Saturday, the State Department issued a “do not travel” advisory for Russia because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Washington urged all US citizens to depart immediately, citing factors including “the potential for harassment against US citizens by Russian government security officials” and “the embassy’s limited ability to assist” Americans in Russia.
Griner has played in Russia during the winter for the past seven years, earning more than $US1 million ($1.36 million) per season — more than quadruple her WNBA salary.
She last played for her Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, on January 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.
More than a dozen WNBA players were playing in Russia and Ukraine this winter, including league MVP Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley of the champion Chicago Sky.
The WNBA confirmed on Saturday that all players besides Griner had left both countries.