United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly commented Sunday on reports that WNBA star Brittney Griner is being held in Russia.
Griner was reportedly arrested for having vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage while traveling at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow
“There’s only so much I can say, given privacy considerations at this point,” Blinken said at a joint press availability with Moldovan President Maia Sandu.
Blinken intentionally kept his comments vague, even referring to Griner as “the individual you mentioned” during his press conference.
However, Blinken did support any American being detained in another country.
“Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we of course stand ready to provide every possible assistance,” Blinken said. “And that includes in Russia.”
Evelyn Farkas, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine from 2012-15, told Yahoo’s Jeff Eisenberg Griner could be used as a “high-profile hostage” for the United States and Russia.
“If we want her out of jail, Russia is going to have some terms,” Farkas said. “It could be a prisoner swap. They also could use it as an implicit threat or blackmail to get us to do something or not do something. Either way, they find it useful.”
While it is unclear how long Griner has been held in Russia, Minnesota Lynx player Angel McCoughtry wrote on Instagram that it has been three weeks.
On Saturday, the WNBA, Team USA and the Phoenix Mercury all released statements in support of Griner.
Griner was the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft in 2013 for the Phoenix Mercury, where she has played her entire WNBA career. She has also played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Women's Basketball Premier League since 2014.
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