WNBA Commissioner Says ‘We Need to Get a Deal Done’ for Griner
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert has been working with the US government and the state department in hopes of getting Brittney Griner released from her detainment in Russia.
Tuesday marked 110 days since the seven-time All-Star was arrested in Russia after customs agents claim they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow.
Engelbert spoke with reporters ahead of the Liberty-Lynx game discussing what Griner’s “wrongfully detained” status means and how it should and needs to expedite the process of getting Griner back to the United States.
“Once designated as wrongfully detained, it moves to the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs where they can discuss prisoner exchange,” Engelbert said. “I’ve talked with that group several times… but we need to get a deal done.”
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The US government classified Griner’s arrest as “wrongfully detained” on May 3. The department also noted that getting Griner back in the US a “top priority,” though Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, wants to see additional measures taken to bring her home .
Trevor Reed, a United States Marine Corps veteran who was wrongfully detained in Russia for 985 days, strongly advocated that the government needed to do all it could to bring home the Mercury star during a rally in Houston on Monday. Reed, who was released in an April prisoner swap, said being in Russian prison everyday was like “waking up to a nightmare.”
In addition to Reed, Griner has received outpouring support from NBA figures like LeBron James, Steph Curry, South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, WNBA players and members of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association. During Boston’s practice ahead of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Celtics wore black and orange “We Are BG” shirts that included the QR code to the Change.org petition to “Secure Griner’s Swift and Safe Return to the US”
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