WNBA star Brittney Griner arrested in Russia for drug trafficking

Brittney Griner, 31, is one of the most decorated players in WNBA history with 7 All-Star selections and a championship title.

WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was arrested last month at a Moscow airport after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges.

Russia’s customs service said on Saturday the cartridges were identified as containing cannabis-derived oil, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The customs service identified the person arrested as a player of the American women’s team and did not specify the date of his arrest. Russian media reported that the player was Griner, and her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, did not dispute this information.

“We are aware of Brittney Griner’s situation in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, the WNBA and the NBA,” Kagawa Colas said Saturday. “As this is an ongoing legal case, we are unable to comment further on the specifics of her case, but we can confirm that, as we strive to bring her home, her mental health and physics remains our main concern.”

On Saturday, the State Department issued a “do not travel” advisory for Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine and urged all U.S. citizens to leave immediately, citing factors such as “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials” and “the Embassy’s limited ability to assist” Americans in Russia.

Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, has played in Russia for the past seven years this winter, earning more than $1 million a season, more than four times his 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 Chicago Sky champion Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley. The WNBA confirmed on Saturday that all players except Griner have left both countries.

Griner, 31, won two Olympic gold medals with the United States, a WNBA championship with the Mercury and a national championship with Baylor. She is a seven-time All-Star.

“Brittney Griner has the full support of the WNBA and our top priority is her quick and safe return to the United States,” the league said in a statement.

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