Russia Arrests WNBA Star Brittney Griner for Cannabis

WNBA star Brittney Griner has been arrested in Russia for possessing cannabis vape cartridges amidst the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Russia
Courtesy of Shutterstock

Russia announced on Saturday that WNBA player Brittney Griner has been arrested for possession of cannabis vape cartridges, an offense that could subject the All-Star athlete to a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Griner’s arrest comes in the midst of a war between Russia and Ukraine, which began with an invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The Russian Customs Service said on Saturday that a women’s basketball player from the United States had been detained after the cannabis vape cartridges were discovered in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow, although Griner was not identified by name, and the date of the arrest was not specified. The customs service also released a video that appears to depict Griner making her way through an airport security checkpoint.

The Russian news agency TASS then reported that the arrested player was Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Although the date of Griner’s arrest was not announced, media outlets reported that she has been in custody since February. Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s agent, appeared to confirm reports of the arrest in a statement on Saturday.

“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams and the WNBA and NBA,” Kagawa Colas said. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.”

WNBA Star Player

Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, played on the Mercury’s league championship team in 2014 and has been chosen as a league All-Star seven times. She was in Russia to play the winter basketball season, a practice common with many WNBA players. She has played in Russia for the last seven seasons earning more than $1 million per year, about four times her annual salary with the WNBA. On January 29, she played her most recent game with her team UMMC Ekaterinburg before the Russian league took a two-week break for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.

“Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support, and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States,” the league said in a statement on Saturday.

More than a dozen WNBA players, including league MVP Jonquel Jones and two players from the league champion Chicago Sky, Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley, were in Ukraine and Russia to play basketball this winter. The WNBA said on Saturday that all players except Griner had left the two warring countries. The players’ union also issued a statement of support on Monday.

“We are aware of the situation in Russia concerning one of our members, Brittney Griner. Our utmost concern is BG’s safety and well-being,” the WNBAPA said. “On behalf of The 144, we send our love and support. We will continue to closely monitor and look forward to her return to the U.S.”

Russia and Ukraine At War

Griner’s arrest comes in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, potentially entwining her in an ongoing diplomatic row between the United States and Russia. On Saturday, the same day that news of Griner’s arrest made headlines, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory warning Americans not to travel to Russia, citing “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials” and “the Embassy’s limited ability to assist” Americans in the country.

News of Griner’s arrest drew swift rebuke from U.S. officials. Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Griner’s hometown of Houston in the U.S. House of Representatives, issued a statement over the weekend calling for her release. 

“We know that there were some issues dealing with vape cartridges and other items, but let me be very clear,” she said at a public event Saturday, “Brittney Griner is a United States citizen; she was a guest in Russia … and I will be demanding her release.”

Texas Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro took to social media to demand Griner’s release.

“This follows a pattern of Russia wrongly detaining and imprisoning US citizens, including Trevor Reed,” Castro wrote on Twitter. “US citizens are not political pawns. Brittney, Trevor and other Americans must be safely returned,” he added, referring to Griner and a former U.S. Marine who was sentenced in 2020 to nine years in prison for assaulting two police officers. His family claims the charges are untrue and politically motivated.

Michael A. McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, warned any Americans remaining in Russia to leave the country immediately.

“I obviously don’t know the circumstances of her detention, but Griner’s arrest should serve as a wake-up call to all Americans in Russia,” McFaul told the New York Times. “Get out. Shut down your businesses now.”

Total
150
Shares
13 comments
  1. What part of recreational drugs are illegal in Russia did she not understand? She’s lived over there for 3 off seasons. Looks like this over privileged idiot is getting the f—- around and find out lesson.

  2. The customs inspection of the hand luggage being carried by the US citizen confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance.

  3. I have absolutely no sympathy for this person. She’s incredibly stupid for bringing drugs into Russia and I couldn’t care less if she gets 10 years. This is just another fine example of an American idiot abroad.

    1. I agree 100% John. She’s an utterly stupid moron. Why wouldn’t she get hooked up once she got to Russia? Im sure after 7 seasons of Russian ball she has made a few connections there. As I recall she also refused to stand for the national anthem and asked the WNBA to stop playing it. She obviously hates her country so at least now she can enjoy the nice quiet lifestyle of a Russian gulag for the next 10 years. Hope she has a really great time.

  4. Let this guy rot in jail. He’s not very smart and I hope the Russian prison system knocks some common sense into his head. I just hope he learns something after all this over.

  5. That dude is messed up. What normal person would even dream of doing something like that? No doubt he deserves a 10 year vacation in a Russian prison. That will give him lots of time to reflect on his privileged life, his unfortunate mistakes and his sad misgivings. Good luck.

  6. Media are trying to twist this story to deflect from the actual issue. Why did she break the law of a country she was in? Media is making this out to be about blaming everyone other than the one who broke the law. From she’s black, queer, wnba player aren’t valued in USA, etc. Same woke non sense of not taking any accountability for your actions. Deflecting to ramp up a dead or non existent narrative since they can keep sowing divisions.

  7. Dave, the answer is quite simple…the media is just as stupid as she is. She broke the law. Case closed. Media can say what they want but the fact remains that she brought dope into a foreign country, got busted and now must pay the price. Sadly the media is ignoring this obvious fact.

  8. BRITTNEY COULDNT HAVE CHOSEN A WORSE TIME TO GET BUSTED. I WOULD SUGGEST DOING WHAT THE CHINESE STUDENTS DID TO OUR EMASSYS AFTER WE ACCIDENTALLY BOMBED ONE OF THEIR CONSOLANTS DURING A WAR WE FOUGHT IN THE MUDDLE EAST. THE STUDENTS THREW ROCKS AT OUR EMBASSY WHILE AUTHORITIES STOOD BY TAKING PICTURES FOR THEIR SCRAP BOOKS . THE CHINESE PREMIER REFUSED TO TAKE PHONE CALLS FROM OUR PRESIDENT WHICH I BELIEVE WAS BUSH.

  9. Hi Fred. Yeah, let’s all throw rocks at the Russian embassy. That will work for sure! Maybe while we’re at it we can call them bad names like dumb-dumbs and pop-poo heads!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts
Total
150
Share