Britney Greiner’s position clarified: WNBA star’s wife breaks her silence and asks to speak with President Biden

Brittney Greiner, seven-time WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA Defensive Player, He remains in Russian custody after his arrest in February At Sheremetyevo International Airport. The Russian Federal Customs Service claims to have found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil concentrated in marijuana in the luggage of the Griner.

Greiner, 31, is under criminal investigation for “large-scale transportation of narcotics, a crime that can carry up to 10 years behind bars in Russia,” according to him. New York times. Phoenix Mercury, the WNBA team, and the WNBPA released their backing in early March.

The government of the United States has mobilized to the defense of Greiner, Announcing that she is “unjustly detained” On May 3, he reportedly requested the help of former US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who has several years’ experience as an international hostage negotiator. With Greiner’s new appointment, the US government can act immediately to negotiate her return rather than wait until her trial in Russia is over.

“The State Department has determined that the Russian Federation has unlawfully detained US citizen Brittney Greiner,” a spokesperson for the State Department. ESPN . said. “With this determination, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the interagency team to secure the release of Britney Grenier.”

According to State Department spokesman Ned Price, a US consular official met with Grenier on May 19, and the officer reported that Grenier “continues to do what is expected under these very difficult circumstances.” This was the second visit in a week, but Price wants more access to the Griner.

“Our message is clear and simple — we continue to insist that Russia allow consistent and timely consular access to all detained U.S. citizens,” Price ABC News said. “One-time visits are not enough, and we will continue to call on Moscow to fulfill its obligations under the Vienna Convention for continuous and timely access as well.”

Britney Greiner’s wife, Cheryl Greiner, Talk about the situation In an interview with “Good Morning America” ​​on May 25. Sheryl Greiner said the two had not communicated verbally in more than 100 days, as his wife’s phone was taken away shortly after she entered police custody. However, they have exchanged messages “intermittently” at that time ever since.

Sheryl Greiner also requested to meet with President Joe Biden during the interview.

“I still hear that, you know, he has the power,” she said. “It’s a political pawn.” “So if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, I want you to do it.”

Greiner has more than the US government on its side. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced in an interview at the NBA Draft Lottery on May 17 He and WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbert “work together” to secure Greiner’s release. This process led to Silver reaching out to “every level” of government.

“We’ve been in contact with the White House, the State Department, the hostage negotiators, every level of government and also through the private sector as well.” ESPN . said. “Our number one priority is her health and safety and making sure she gets out of Russia.”

Video of Greiner trying to pass an airport check from Russian customs surfaced on March 5, but the service did not identify the former Baylor star by name. Russian news agency TASS then confirmed it was Greiner, and Russian state television released an undated photo of her at a police station later that day. He was a two-time Olympic gold medalist It said Arrested on February 17.

According to a report from Russia’s state news agency TASS On March 17, a Moscow court extended her pretrial detention until May 19. The court also rejected Grenier’s application for house arrest, according to what he reported. from the inside. Greiner, who is 6-foot-9, complained that her cell beds were too small for her, TASS reports. She shares her cell with two other English-speaking inmates, both of whom are said to have no previous convictions and have been detained for “drug-related articles”. NBC.

Greiner He made a short appearance before the Russian court on May 13, when she learned of the extension of her pretrial detention until June 18. Alexander Boykov, Greiner’s lawyer, He told the Associated Press He believes that the relatively short extension length means his client will soon get a trial. The attorney added that Greiner had “no complaints about the conditions of detention”, but that it was unclear whether the bed-size situation had been resolved.

On March 18, Ekaterina Kalugina, a representative of the Moscow Public Monitoring Committee that oversees how prisoners are treated, said that the US consul had not yet visited Greiner. Kalugina says this is despite Russian authorities saying they will “create all conditions” for a visit.

That changed less than a week later. On March 22, US State Department spokesman Ned Price told CNN US Embassy official granted ‘consular access’ to Grinerallowing them to assess its condition.

“Our official has found Britney Greiner to be in good shape, and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that she is treated fairly during this ordeal,” Price said. He said.

The visit comes after the US embassy in Moscow “repeatedly asked” to speak with Grenier immediately after his arrest, but was refused permission “ongoingly and inappropriately”. Then US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan asked the Russian Foreign Ministry to “follow international law and basic human morals to allow consulate access to all US citizens detained in Russia, including pretrial detainees.”

Russia launched a large-scale military attack on Ukraine on February 24, prompting the United States and other countries to issue it severe penalties against Russia. It is not clear whether Russia’s arrest of Greiner, who has played for Russian Premier League team UMMC Ekaterinburg for the past few WNBA seasons, was an act of retaliation.

Regardless of Russia’s intentions, the US government It said She plans to start a “protracted battle” to bring Griner back to her homeland.

How did American politicians react on the spot?

The immediate reaction to Greiner’s position was somewhat muted among US politicians due to concerns about the former WNBA champion’s privacy. But three US congressmen representing Grenier’s home state of Texas, lent their support.

Texas Congressman Colin Allred, who is also a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he is personally working with the State Department to expedite Greiner’s return to the United States, and Allred called the situation “extremely concerning.”

“Every day for anyone who is detained, especially abroad, is for life” He said Allred, a former NFL quarterback who played football for Baylor in the early 2000s. “I realize that for her friends and family, this must be an incredibly difficult time. And for her, I’m sure the uncertainty of what’s going on is probably horrible. So, I hope, whatever happens, we can move this around quickly and get her out.”

In a tweet, Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro said he was “closely watching” Grenier’s arrest in Russia and demanded her “peaceful return.”

“This follows a pattern of Russia wrongly arresting and imprisoning American citizens,” Castro said. books On March 5, “…American citizens are not political pawns.”

Castro’s comments were similar to those made by Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Speaking to a crowd, Jackson Lee called for Greiner’s release and said she had asked the State Department to prioritize her case.

“If there are challenges and concerns about her actions, they should be dealt with diplomatically and released,” Jackson told me. He said.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to comment directly on Greiner’s position immediately after her arrest was publicly announced, citing privacy concerns. Psaki noted that federal privacy law requires the US government to obtain written consent from a detained person to discuss their status.

However, Blinken said his department is “doing everything in its power” to ensure that the rights of all Americans detained in Russia are respected and respected.

“When an American is arrested anywhere in the world, of course we are ready to provide all possible assistance, and that includes Russia,” Blinken said on March 6.

Providing help won’t be easy in Griner’s case, according to California Congressman John Garamendi. Garamendi, who also serves on the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, said the “non-existent” diplomatic relationship between the United States and Russia would make securing her release “extremely difficult”.

“Our diplomatic relations with Russia do not exist at the moment,” Garamendi told CNN in March. “Maybe during the various negotiations that might take place, you might be able to be one of the solutions. I don’t know.”

Garamendi added that Greiner’s sexual orientation – she’s lesbian – could make the process more difficult because “Russia has some very strict rules and laws about LGBT people.”

While it has not yet been determined whether Russia detained Griner for provoking the United States, the State Department urged US citizens to leave Russia immediately to avoid “the possibility of harassment” in Updated Consultant On March 5th.

Why was Grenier in Russia?

Griner is one of about 70 players in the WNBA — nearly half of the league’s 144 places roster — competing internationally during the 2022 season. She was also among more than a dozen players to play in Russia or Ukraine — and all of them have left, except for Griner. UMMC Ekaterinburg alone has five WNBA All-Stars in Griner, judging WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones, Breanna Stewart, Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot on its current roster.

While Griner and Co. have. Various reasons to play internationally, many of them do so for financial purposes. The minimum and maximum wages in the WNBA are $60,471 and $228,094, respectively. Those numbers are much lower than what the NBA offers, as this league – which plays 82 games compared to WNBA 36 – has a minimum salary of $925,000 and a maximum starting salary of more than $28 million.

According to Cherelle Griner, Brittney Griner plays abroad due to WNBA pay. Greiner It said He earns $1 million a season to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg.

“BG would wholeheartedly love not to travel abroad,” Cheryl Greiner told ABC News on May 25. “I’ve had Thanksgiving once in the States for nine years since she was a professional, and she misses all of those things. Just because you know, she can’t make enough money in the WNBA, like, to sustain her life.”

WNBA’s relatively low salaries forced former league best player – and Griner’s Mercury teammate – Diana Taurasi to accept a $1.5 million contract from UMMC Ekaterinburg in 2015 even though he would keep her out of that year’s WNBA season.

“The nature of women’s basketball throughout the year has its effect, and the financial opportunity with my team in Russia would have been irresponsible to refuse,” Torassi books In an open letter to the masses. “They offered to pay me for the rest and I decided to deal with them. I want to be able to take care of myself and my family when I’m done playing.”

In 2020, the WNBA and WNBPA agreed on a new eight-year CBA that would raise the average salary to nearly $130,000, the first time it has crossed six figures. The maximum salary for the WNBA was $117,500 the previous year.