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Basketball player’s arrest sparks ‘diplomatic battle’ between US and Russia

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Brittney Griner, WNBA star and Olympic basketball champion at Tokyo 2020, has been arrested in Russia for possession of narcotics.

American Brittney Griner, WNBA star and Olympic basketball champion at Tokyo 2020, has been arrested in Russia for possession of narcotics, the United States Basketball Federation announced on March 5, amid a crisis between the West and Moscow because of Ukraine.

The arrest, which took place three weeks ago, is now a subject of attention for the United States government, which is currently working to return the athlete to its country, although it has not yet been able to contact the basketball player, not even through the consulate.

“I think it’s really unusual that we haven’t had access to [a Brittney Griner] via our embassy or our consular services. The Russian penal system is very different from ours, very opaque. We don’t know exactly where his case is. She’s been in custody for three weeks and it’s extremely concerning,” Colin Allred, a member of the US House of Representatives, told ESPN.

According to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson, the White House and the US State Department are actively working through diplomatic channels to try to bring the basketball player back. Joe Biden’s leadership will avoid commenting publicly on the case for strategic reasons, fearing that Russia will use the situation as a diplomatic asset against the United States, during the period of the invasion of Ukraine.

The basketball player represents the Phoenix Mercury and was arrested on her arrival in Russia, on a flight from New York, because of the “smell” emanating from the suitcases she was carrying.

According to Russian customs, the existence of cannabinoid oils, vaporizers and other related products has been confirmed.

Double Olympic champion, the last of which dates back to 2021, Britney Griner, 31, faces a sentence of five to ten years in prison, if convicted, for the crime of drug trafficking.

Griner alternates his North American League career with a presence in Europe, representing Yekaterinburg since 2014.

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