Basketball: U.S. WNBA All-Star Griner detained in Russia, customs service cites hash possession


(Reuters) – U.S. basketball officers mentioned on Saturday they have been carefully monitoring the scenario surrounding seven-time WNBA All-Star participant Brittney Griner after Russia mentioned it had detained a U.S. participant final month for possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil.

Without figuring out Griner, a middle for the feminine league’s Phoenix Mercury, the Russian Customs Service mentioned a participant was detained in February after arriving at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on a flight from New York.

Russian information company TASS recognized the participant as Griner, citing a supply. The Phoenix Mercury workforce, with out elaborating, mentioned: “We are conscious of and are carefully monitoring the scenario with Brittney Griner in Russia.”

A scan of the participant’s baggage revealed cartridges containing “liquid with cannabis oil”, and a legal case has been opened carrying a potential sentence of 5 to 10 years in jail, the customs service mentioned.

It was not clear when in February Griner, who performs in Russia through the WNBA’s winter low season, was detained. The participant remains to be in custody and an investigation is underway, the Russian Customs Service mentioned.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 and Western nations’ sweeping sanctions geared toward isolating Moscow, the United States on Saturday warned in opposition to journey to Russia and mentioned its embassy there had restricted capability to help residents.

The Phoenix Mercury mentioned: “We love and assist Brittney and presently our important concern is her security, bodily and psychological well being, and her secure return residence.”

Griner, who received Olympic gold medals with the U.S. nationwide groups in 2016 and 2021, “has all the time dealt with herself with the utmost professionalism throughout her lengthy tenure with USA Basketball,” USA Basketball mentioned on Twitter.

“(Her) security and wellbeing are our major issues,” the group added.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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