Russia denies U.S. access to Brittney Griner

A Texas lawmaker is “extremely” concerned that WNBA star Brittney Griner has been held in Russia for three weeks “without official government access to her.”

 

Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas) spoke with CNN after it was revealed that the basketball star was arrested with cannabis vape cartridges in Russia and is currently being detained. Griner is from Texas, and Allred is a former athlete who, like Griner, played with Baylor University, The Washington Post notes. He says he’s been working with the State Department to get her released.

Russia denies U.S. access to Brittney Griner
Russia denies U.S. access to Brittney Griner

“For Brittney’s sake, we don’t want her to become a part of this kind of political battle that’s going on, and we want to make sure that her rights are respected and that we are able to get access to her, and that she can get through the process and get home as quickly as possible,” Allred told CNN.

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Allred also told CNN “we do know that she’s okay” because her Russian lawyer has been in contact with her agent and family, but he said the U.S. Embassy requested consular access and has been denied.

 

“The fact we’ve requested consular access and it has not been granted is very unusual and extremely concerning,” Allred told The Washington Post.



It isn’t clear where Griner, who plays for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg during off-seasons, is being held, though Russian state media this week shared her alleged mugshot. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) previously told CNN that getting her out of Russia will be “very difficult” because “our diplomatic relationships with Russia are nonexistent at the moment” amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Speaking to the Post, Allred said he wouldn’t be surprised if this is another example of Russia bringing “trumped up charges” against an American, adding that the country’s “criminal system is very different than ours and is very opaque.” The Wall Street Journal writes it “could be weeks or possibly months before her situation is resolved.”

 

Brittney Griner was detained by the Russian Government on drug charges.

 

Griner was arrested at an airport near Moscow after Russian authorities searched her luggage and allegedly found vape cartridges containing hashish oil. The Russian Federal Customs Service issued a statement that it had opened a criminal investigation into the large-scale transportation of drugs, which in Russia can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

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