June 27, 2022

The U.S. is working to safe the discharge of a WNBA participant, who in February was arrested in Russia on drug trafficking allegations.

Questions encompass whether or not the Biden administration thinks Russia took Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner into custody as a bargaining chip. The White Home has not offered a transparent reply.

White Home press secretary Jen Psaki advised reporters Thursday that she couldn’t “communicate to the specifics” of Griner’s case, citing authorized causes. Psaki stated the administration’s goal is “at all times to deliver Americans house who’re detained in international international locations.”

When pressed to reply whether or not Griner is getting used as a “bargaining chip” amid the Russia-Ukraine struggle, Psaki replied that the main target of the White Home was on the battle itself.

“I definitely perceive why you’re asking, however our focus proper now on how we’re going to deliver an finish to the battle is to assist and increase up the Ukrainians, to assist diplomatic conversations and to proceed to offer a spread of help in that gentle,” Psaki stated.

Griner, who was a part of the U.S. Olympic Group and likewise performed for a membership in Yekaterinburg, Russia, was detained by border officers at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Feb. 17 for possessing vaporizer cartridges that contained cannabis, which is against the law in Russia. 

Her arrest got here a little bit over per week after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine. The U.S., along with its allies, would later difficulty huge sanctions in opposition to Russia’s financial system. 

Quite a few sports activities journalists criticized the silence of U.S. diplomats on Griner’s case with ESPN reporter T.J. Quinn warning that the Putin authorities could look to make an instance out of a “6-foot- 9 Black homosexual American lady” as a “cautionary story of American decadence.”

Griner’s case has caught the eye of a number of members of Congress, who’ve referred to as for her launch. 

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On Wednesday, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who represents Griner’s hometown of Houston, demanded that Putin launch her instantly. A day later, two Republican members of the Home penned a letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to rescue Griner from being a “hostage to a heinous and deranged dictator.” 

Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas, who like Griner attended Baylor College, pledged that his workplace would press the State Division to exert extra efforts to deliver Griner house. 

“My workplace has been in contact with the State Division, and we’re working with them to see what’s one of the best ways ahead,” stated Allred. “I do know the administration is working arduous to attempt to get entry to her and attempt to be useful right here.”

Griner is certainly one of a number of Individuals at the moment in Russian custody along with former Marines Trevor Reed and Paul Wheelan. On Wednesday, President Biden spoke on the cellphone to the Reed household to pledge his assist.

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