The State Department has now classified WNBA player Brittney Griner as wrongfully detained in Russia and her case is now being heard by the office of US Special Presidential Envoy to Hostage Hostage (SPEHA) Roger Carstens, a State Department official. confirmed to CNN.
The SPEHA office directs and coordinates the government’s diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Americans wrongfully detained abroad. They played a key role in securing the release of US citizen and former Marine Trevor Reed from Russia last week.
“When it comes to our efforts to liberate Americans, Special Presidential Envoy to Hostage Ambassador Carstens, he will go anywhere, he will talk to anyone if it means we can come home with an American, to reunite that American with her or his family,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and player for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, was arrested in February at a Moscow airport and charged by Russian authorities with smuggling significant amounts of narcotics — a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. stands.
She plays for Russian powerhouse UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason.
On Tuesday, the WNBA said it will honor Griner during the 2022 season with her initials (BG) and jersey number (42) along the sidelines of all 12 home fields.
“As the 2022 season begins, we will keep Brittney at the forefront of what we do through basketball and in the community,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.
“We continue to work to bring Brittney home and appreciate the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extremely challenging time.”
Last season, Griner finished second in the Most Valuable Player voting. She led the Mercury to the WNBA Finals, where Phoenix lost in four games to the Chicago Sky.
The WNBA season kicks off Friday and Phoenix kicks off the season at home against the Las Vegas Aces.
Russian authorities did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the Foreign Ministry’s classification as “wrongly detained” in the Griner case.