The US government now considers women’s basketball star Britney Greiner to be “unjustly detained” by Russia, According to a Tuesday report by ESPN.
Quoting “sources familiar with her condition,” ESPN She noted that the new appointment by the United States represented an “important shift in how officials are trying to bring her home.”
As a result of this shift, the United States and Grenier’s supporters will likely be more proactive and public in their efforts to secure its freedom.
The change “means that the US government will no longer wait for the Grenier case to be triggered by the Russian legal system and will seek to negotiate its return,” it said. ESPNand that “her fellow WNBA players and supporters in Congress will be told that they have the family’s blessing for bringing as much attention to her cause as they wish.”
A State Department official confirmed the shift in a statement to ESPN: “The State Department has determined that the Russian Federation has unlawfully detained U.S. citizen Britney Grenier. With this determination, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the Interagency Team to secure Britney Grenier’s release.”
Greiner, the six-foot-nine WNBA champion and one of the most decorated athletes of her generation, has been in Russia custody since February 17, when she was arrested at a Moscow airport on a drug charge after allegedly carrying packages of cannabis. The charge could carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
The Russian Federal Customs Service announced his arrest in early March, weeks after the arrest. In the ad, the agency did not identify Greiner by name, describing her only as an American women’s basketball player who won two Olympic golds. The announcement also came with a video showing a woman matching Griner’s physical description as she passes through airport security.
In mid-March, the Russian authorities Griner’s detention extended At least another two months until May 19.
“Britney has been held for 75 days, and we expect the White House to do whatever is necessary to get her home,” Greiner’s agent, Lindsey Kagawa Colas, ESPN . said In a statement on Tuesday.
ESPN provided some additional details surrounding her detention in its Tuesday report, reporting that “a source close to Grenier also confirmed on Monday that former US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who has worked privately for years as an international hostage negotiator, has agreed to work on Grenier’s case. last week “.
This does not mean Greiner is considered a hostage, the official said, which is a different legal classification than the wrong detainee. Sources close to Grenier said they were not told why she was being reclassified, but were told Saturday morning that her case had been transferred to the special envoy’s office. Until last weekend, her case was taken up by the consular office, which monitors the cases of any Americans detained abroad without necessarily interfering. State Department officials notified appropriate congressional committees of the change on Monday.”
The change in classification follows the release of former US Marine Trevor Reed last week from a Russian prison.
Reade, who has been held there since 2019, was released as part of a prisoner exchange for a Russian national who had been held in the United States.
According to ESPN, “Team Griner became optimistic about her fate last week” following the release of Reed, which Richardon also negotiated.
Tuesday, WNBA announce She plans to feature Griner’s initials and number 42 jersey at every stadium this season. The season starts on May 6.
“With the start of the 2022 season, we are keeping Britney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community,” WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbert She said in the current situation. “We continue to work on bringing Britney home and appreciate the support the community has given BG and her family during this very difficult time.”