Brittney Griner, a WNBA player who spends the winter months playing overseas, has been held in Russia after being accused of carrying hashish oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. The Russian Federal Customs Service issued a statement on Saturday, according to The New York Times, stating that officials detained an American basketball player after discovering vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.
According to a law enforcement source, the player’s name is Brittney Griner, according to the Russian news outlet TASS. Griner was seen in a video published by the Customs Service walking through security wearing a mask and a black hoodie. An official was also seen retrieving a box from a passenger’s bag in the video.
The Customs Service could not specify the specific date of the incident, although officials stated the airport screening took place in February. In Russia, a person can be sentenced to ten years in prison for trafficking illegal narcotics, according to the statement.
Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star center for the Phoenix Mercury, won gold medals with the USWNT in 2021 and 2016.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” the Mercury said in a statement. “We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”
Officials in the United States have expressed worry about Russian individuals being detained on spurious allegations. As Russia continues to engage in hostilities with Ukraine, the concern has increased even more. According to ESPN, the State Department has advised all US citizens to leave Russia immediately, citing concerns about “possible harassment of US nationals by Russian government security authorities” and “the Embassy’s limited ability to assist” Americans in the country.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, several other WNBA players have departed the nation in the last week.
“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 WNBA Players’ union said in a statement to ESPN. “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.”