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WNBA World Speaks Out as Brittney Griner’s Detention in Russia Hits 100 Days

Saturday marks 100 days since WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was first detained in Russia, and figures from around the league took to social media to continue to pressure the U.S. government to bring her home.

Griner, a seven-time All-Star with the Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA, was arrested on Feb. 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport, where Russian officials said they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. According to the customs service statement, a criminal case involving Griner “has been opened into the large-scale transportation of drugs,” which can carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years in Russia.

As of May 3, the U.S government has classified Griner’s arrest as a “wrongful detainment.” The U.S State Department has also called getting Griner back on U.S. soil a “top priority,” though Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, is hoping to see additional action taken to get her wife home.

On Friday night, with the 100-day mark looming, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert reiterated that the league is still working with the U.S. government to try and get Griner back on American soil.

“As I said, it’s unimaginable and extremely complex, continues to be,” Engelbert said to reporters at the Fever vs. Sparks game Friday. “We continue to work. It’s not a day that goes by that we’re not on some call with either the U.S. government, the State Department, some expert in hostage negotiation, or just in this geopolitical mess that the world has found itself in, that we’re kind of a small microcosm of in the world. 

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“So we’re working on it. We’re getting messages (there). Players are able to get messages, not talk to, but get messages to Brittney, get her support while she’s there, let her know that we’re all thinking about her.”

The WNBPA followed suit on Saturday afternoon, sharing a statement on Griner’s detention and encouraging supporters to sign and circulate the ”We Are BG” petition.

“Cherelle [Griner] NEEDS to meet with President Biden. Her person, our sister, has been wrongfully detained for 100 days. You’ve heard our pleas,” the WNBPA said in a statement. “You have heard BG’s wife Cherelle’s pleas. And now more than ever, we need you to stand with us, to get her person home.”

Following the release of the WNBPA’s statement, players, teams and coaches from around the league and the world of women’s basketball took to social media to shine a spotlight on Griner on the 100th day of her detention.

A number of other players’ associations, including the NBPA and the MLBPA, as well as USA Basketball also circulated the petition on social media.

Griner was denied house arrest and her detention was extended for 30 days on May 13. U.S. Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said Friday that a U.S. consular officer was able to meet with Griner on Thursday, May 19, for the second time in a week and “found her continuing to do as well as could be expected under these exceedingly challenging circumstances.”