Wednesday, February 28

‘What about Brittney Griner?’ After Trevor Reed’s release, questions swirl over fate of WNBA star

Trevor Reed’s release from Russian imprisonment was met with applause and fanfare Wednesday, but raised questions, and some outrage, over the fate of jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner.

The 31-year-old Griner was arrested in February after Russian officials said they found vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. She’s been in Russian custody ever since.

News of the US-Russia prisoner exchange that freed Reed, a 30-year-old former US Marine from Texas, was met with mixed social media reactions.

“I’m so happy for Trevor Reed and his family! However, we need to do the same for Brittney Griner,” one Twitter user wrote.

“What about Brittney Griner, tho?” another wrote.

“Brittney Griner couldn’t get in on the release???” another questioned.

Ex-Marine Trevor Reed
Trevor Reed, charged with attacking police, during a court hearing in Moscow on March 11, 2020.Alexander Nemenov / AFP via Getty Images file

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared statements Wednesday praising Reed’s release and promising to prioritize bringing home Americans wrongfully detained abroad home. Both named the high-profile case of Paul Whelan, but notably did not mention Griner.

NBC News reached out to Griner’s lawyers and representatives as well as the WNBA for comment.

In a briefing Wednesday, senior administration officials said they’re “very aware that there are other Americans held in Russia,” adding that Whelan and Griner are “very much in our minds today, even as we are so happy for the news about Trevor Reed.”

“We will continue to work on an attempt to find ways to address other cases as best we can,” the officials said.

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Some social media users noted that Griner is being held in Russia after being found with hash oil, while Reed was freed in exchange for convicted Russian drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving time in Connecticut.

“It’s really wild that #BrittanyGriner is locked up over a vape pen and not one politician or athlete of prominence has spoken up,” one social media user tweeted.

“Why is it so hard to get Brittany Griner home??? … The US just let a Russian drug lord go you would’ve thought the marine and Brittany would’ve been a good trade for US,” another added.

Griner is accused of alleged drug smuggling, an offense that could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, Russian authorities said.

Last month, her detention was extended until May 19. A person close to Griner’s situation said in March she is doing OK and has seen her Russian legal team multiple times a week since her detention.

Griner, a 6-foot-9 athlete, played center for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and has competed in Russia in the winter months for seven years.

She last played for her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg on Jan. 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA ​​World Cup qualifying tournaments.

She has also won two Olympic gold medals with the US, a WNBA championship with the Mercury, and a national championship at Baylor. She is a seven-time All-Star.

Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has since posted twice on Instagram about her detention.

“My heart, our hearts, are all skipping beats everyday that goes by. I miss your voice. I miss your presence. You’re our person! There are no words to express this pain. I’m hurting, we’re hurting, ”she wrote in her most recent post by ella March 7.

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