US official visits Brittney Griner in Russia, says detained WNBA star ‘in good condition’

The US State Department said Wednesday that a US Embassy official visited WNBA star Brittney Griner, who remains in detention near Moscow, to check on her condition.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told CNN the official found Griner “in good condition.” Price did not identify the official who had obtained consular access to Griner, which the United States had demanded.

Griner was arrested after arriving at a Moscow airport, reportedly in mid-February, after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vaping cartridges allegedly containing cannabis-derived oil, punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Russian news agency Tass reported last week that a court had extended Griner’s pretrial detention until May 19.

Price said the United States would “do everything possible to ensure that she is treated fairly throughout this ordeal.” Griner’s legal ordeal comes amid tensions between Russia and the United States over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A member of a Russian state-backed prison monitoring group visited Griner last week at the remand center outside Moscow where she is being held and said the Phoenix Mercury star did well behind bars.

Griner’s lawyers visit him regularly.

Quietly seeking release

The two-time Olympic gold medalist’s legal team has quietly demanded her release and has refused to discuss the case since her arrest was made public.

Of the thousands of U.S. citizens arrested and imprisoned in prisons overseas, a small subset are designated by the U.S. government as wrongfully detained – a category that grants their cases an extra level of government attention and places them under the auspices of the Presidential Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department. The US government has yet to classify Griner’s case in this category.

Griner is not the only American detained in Russia. Navy veteran Trevor Reed was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2020 for assaulting police officers in Moscow. And Michigan corporate security chief Paul Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges his family and the US government say are false. US officials have publicly called on Moscow to release them.