Saturday marks 100 days since WNBA All-Star Britney Griner was detained in Russia. Griner was initially taken into custody in Russia on February 17 for drug trafficking after customs officers at a Moscow airport claimed she had vaping cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert spoke to the media at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Friday ahead of the Indiana Fever’s game against the Los Angeles Sparks. Engelbert has received messages from Griner’s Russian attorney, one of the few people able to speak with Griner, that she is fine, given the circumstances.
“As I said, it’s unimaginable and hugely complex, continue to be,” Engelbert said. “We continue to work. Not a day goes by that we are not in communication with the US government, the State Department, an expert in hostage negotiation, or just in this geopolitical mess the world is in. is found. , of which we are a kind of little microcosm in the world.
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“So we’re working on it. We’re getting messages (out there). Players can get messages, not talk, but message Brittney, get her support while she’s there, let her know we’re all think of her.”
Since May 3, the U.S. government has called Griner’s arrest a “wrongful detention.” Engelbert said that when Griner was officially deemed wrongfully detained, it allowed them to work more closely with the State Department.
“I think the wrongful detention allowed his case to come forward to this special presidential envoy for hostage cases. These are the people we talk to every day,” Engelbert said. “These are the people who really have the ability to negotiate something here to get her home as soon as possible. But the most important thing is also safety, we don’t want to compromise the timing.”
Another major point in bringing Griner home is to continue to raise awareness of the situation. While Engelbert was in Indianapolis on Friday, she attended the Indiana World Economic Summit hosted by Gov. Eric Holcomb and spoke about Griner’s detention with attendees.
On Tuesday, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, spoke publicly for the first time since his detention, doing an interview with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America”.
“These talks were also important, of course, all expressing the urgency with which we want Brittney home,” Engelbert said. “So I think you’ll see a lot of activity over the next two days. Tomorrow is the 100th day and sobering, the 100th day that Brittney will be detained in Russia.”
Cherelle Griner told Roberts she thinks President Joe Biden is the only person who can do something about his wife’s detention. She also requested a meeting with the president during the interview.
Engelbert believes the U.S. government as a whole is responsible for bringing Griner home.
“I would call it the government. I don’t think it’s just the president,” Engelbert said. “I think the government has all the tools and I’ve been so impressed with the State Department. One of the people we’re dealing with is a 16-year-old army special force, and you really feel well within their abilities, what they know, how they know she’s being treated in Russia and all that. So I think I’ll call it the government more broadly.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Detention of Brittney Griner in Russia at 100 days: the WNBA “working on it”