One of our nation’s elite basketball players is still in the prison of Russia, a country that shows no signs of downplaying the pointless war against Ukraine and indirectly trying to incite other countries to join the ranks. join the conflict.
Russia’s TASS news agency reported: “The court approved the request to investigate and extend the detention period of American citizen Griner until May 19.
Griner time in detention in Russia hit a month on Thursday and it probably won’t be over anytime soon, because of her jail time was extended for two more months, until at least May 19, on Thursday, according to TASS. Calls for the release of the seven-time WNBA All-Star have fallen on deaf ears over the past two weeks, after reports of her arrest surfaced earlier this month. Griner, 31, allegedly tried to travel with hashish in her luggage, a regular vape box made from cannabis, while at Moscow airport on February 17.
Fear of a big wave of American coverage of Griner’s detention could make her situation worse representing an international diplomatic football scene, the two-time Olympic Gold medal-winning shortlists prioritized private work in hopes of freeing Griner. Little is known about the progress of any release. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on March 6 the Biden administration had a working group on the Griner case. In Russia, the crime of carrying marijuana carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
Griner has spent his international career in Russia since 2014, playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg, earning over $1 million per season. That’s more four times her annual WNBA salary. Griner last played for UMMC Ekaterinburg on January 29. Because of her salary, the WNBA serves as a side income for the league’s stars to play abroad.
A member of Russia’s Public Supervision Commission told TASS Griner was sharing a cell with two women with no criminal record. According to the report, Griner’s only problem was that the prison bed was too short for her 6-foot-9 frame.
The WNBA had previously confirmed Griner, who plays domestically for the Phoenix Mercury, as the only league player still in Russia or Ukraine among more than a dozen who have spent time off from playing professionally in those countries. Other notable players adopting their trade in Eastern Europe are reigning MVP Jonquel Jones, Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley.
The U.S. State Department issued a “do not travel” advice to Russia on March 6 due to the invasion of Ukraine, stating that all U.S. citizens should leave the country immediately. Reasons include “potential harassment of US citizens by Russian government security officials” and “limited ability of the Embassy to assist” US citizens currently in Russia. The 2022 WNBA is scheduled to begin on May 6, less than two weeks before Griner is released from prison.
Griner’s return will be the biggest story of the 2022 WNBA season. She shouldn’t be in jail right now and every day she’s not a free woman. indictment of both Russia and the US, for arresting her and finding no way to secure her release. Efforts need to be stepped up as her sentence is extended, against any measure by which Russia can control the life of a famous American athlete and citizen. It’s a more difficult path because of her popularity, not an impossible path to navigate.