It has been 105 days since WNBA star Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia after customs agents claim they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow. Ahead of Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals on Thursday, commissioner Adam Silver told reporters in a news conference that the league is working to bring the Mercury star back home as soon as possible.
“It is something that all of us should be heard on, contacting your representatives and others,” Silver said. “We are working in lockstep with the U.S. government and outside experts … to expedite her release in any way that we can.”
During the league’s draft lottery on May 17, Silver told ESPN’s Malika Andrews that the NBA had a “huge responsibility” to Griner but said that the league had made a decision to not take public action with Griner’s detainment per a “suggestion of experts in and out of government” who thought Griner’s best path out was not to “amplify” the issues.
On Wednesday, according to the Associated Press, Griner remains unavailable to talk with her fellow WNBA players, but she does have the opportunity to write them. The 31-year-old has received emails from various players to an account that was set up by Griner’s agent, allowing them to communicate with her. Griner does not have access to the email account. As a result, to communicate with her WNBA colleagues, she writes a response on paper and her lawyers take a picture of it or she states a response if she doesn’t have access to paper.
Last week, the Women’s National Basketball Players Association issued a petition urging people to sign it to help bring Brittany Griner home. Dozens of WNBA players have tweeted the petition that refers to Griner as a “teammate”, “friend” and “sister.” The 144 players that make up the players association stated that by working together, they can make a “world-changing moment” in getting Griner home.
Nearly three weeks ago, Griner’s pretrial detention was extended, keeping her in Russia. Authorities denied consular access to Griner from U.S. Embassy officials three times in May, according to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
But Ned Price, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said on May 28 that the U.S. consular office had the chance to meet with Griner on May 19, for a second time in a week and “found her continuing to do as well as could be expected under these exceedingly challenging circumstances.”