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Commenting on the detention of WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner in Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the United States would provide assistance to any citizen detained on foreign soil.
Blinken said, according to ESPN:
“There is little I can say given privacy considerations at this point. Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we are of course prepared to provide full possible assistance, including in Russia.
“We have an embassy team working on the cases of other Americans detained in Russia. We are doing everything we can to ensure their rights are respected.”
Jonathan Abrams of New York Times reported on Saturday that Griner was detained by Russia’s Federal Customs Service at an airport near Moscow in February after officials said they found vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
The Phoenix Mercury Center is still owned by the Russian Federal Customs Service. The Mercury published a declaration Saturday saying the team is aware of the situation and their primary concern is getting Griner home safely:
“We are aware of and closely monitoring Brittney Griner’s situation in Russia. We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and the NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our primary concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and his safe return home.”
Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, also posted a message on Instagram, thanking the fans and asking for privacy as they continue to work to bring the WNBA veteran home:
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding the safe return of my wife from Russia. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. I love my wife dearly, so this message comes during one of the times weakest in my life. I understand that many of you have come to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please respect our privacy as we continue to work to bring my wife back to life. home safely.
Griner, like many WNBA players, competes in overseas leagues during the WNBA offseason. She last played for UMMC Yekaterinburg in Russia in January before the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League took a two-week break in February for the FIBA World Cup Qualifier.
The league resumed play on February 23.
Griner’s detention comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions between the Russian government, the United States and several other countries.
The Mercury selected Griner first overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft. She has since played for the team, earning seven All-Star selections in nine seasons. The Baylor product is averaging 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 56.0 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from deep in 254 games.
The WNBA season is scheduled to begin in May, and the Mercury will open the season against the Las Vegas Aces on May 6.