Earlier today, People Magazine’s Natasha Dado reported that two members of congress are working with the United States Department of State to get Phoenix Mercury center, Brittney Griner, released from Russia, where she is being detained on drug charges.
Per Dado, Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas) are working with the State Department following the arrest of the WNBA Champion. Which customs reportedly found vapor cartridges containing liquid with hash oil in her carry-on at Russia’s Sheremetyevo International Airport last month.
According to ESPN, Allred’s office has already started working on Griner’s release.
“My office has been in touch with the State Department, and we’re working with them to see what is the best way forward,” Allred said, per ESPN.
“I know the administration is working hard to try and get access to her and try to be helpful here. But obviously, it’s also happening in the context of really strained relations,” he added. “I do think that it’s really unusual that we’ve not been granted access to her from our embassy and our consular services.”
“The Russian criminal justice system is very different than ours, very opaque. We don’t have a lot of insight into where she is in that process right now. But she’s been held for three weeks now, and that’s extremely concerning.”
He continued, “So this is not the first time in recent years that an American has been detained and then held either without reason or without a sufficient kind of explanation,” Allred explained. “What’s obviously different here is that Brittney is an extremely high-profile athlete, and it’s happening during the course of a Russian-begun war in Ukraine, in which we are deeply opposed to what they’re doing.”
Congresswoman Jackson Lee also released a statement:
“We know that there were some issues dealing with vape cartridges and other items, but let me be very clear: Brittney Griner is a United States citizen, she was a guest in Russia … and I will be demanding her release,” Lee stated.
“I don’t want to disregard a sovereign nation, but Putin has disregarded sovereign nations his entire service in this world,” she continued. “Anyone that is killing and attacking and destroying Ukraine, a neighboring country that is not bothering them, has no right to hold Ms. Griner. Period.”
Why was Griner in Russia?
Britney has been playing in Russia since 2014, under the same club of UMMC Ekaterinburg – owned by Andrei Kozitsyn, Russian oligarch and business owner of Russia’s leading zinc second-biggest copper producer. She has gone back and forth to Russia during her WNBA off-season within this period.
The apparent reason is that the WNBA star does not get paid enough her stateside. Her $221,000 salary with the Phoenix Mercury is six times less than her Russian salary of 1.5 million dollars. Somewhere in that, you start to get into the disproportion nature our Women athletes are treated with, especially in turns of the wage gap. With the caliber of athlete Griner is, she shouldn’t have to work a ‘second job’ to survive at the same pedigree male athletes are met.
Recently Griner’s wife Cherelle thanked everyone for reaching out regarding Brittney’s current status.
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia,” Cherelle wrote on Instagram on March 5, hours after news of the Phoenix Mercury center’s detainment was made public. “Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated.”
“I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life. I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely. Thank you!”
On Tuesday evening, Jewell Loyd was interviewed by ESPN for International Women’s Day to discuss Loyd’s involvement with the “The Future of Basketball is Female” campaign. She was also asked about Griner as well.
“Brittney and I have become really close the last couple of years. She is really my big sis and we all just want her home safe. We send her a lot of love and I know my family has as well, so we are standing with her, and want her home safe & sound.”