May 26, 2022


Brittney Griner release from Russia is a ‘top priority,’ U.S. official says

2 min read

A Biden administration official says getting WNBA star Brittney Griner back home is a top priority, despite the president failing to mention her name in a statement issued Wednesday regarding Russia releasing U.S. Marine Trevor Reed during a prisoner swap on Wednesday. 

Griner has been detained in Russia since mid-February after being arrested on drug-related charges. Russian authorities accused the Houston native of carrying a cannabis derivative in her luggage while at a Moscow airport. Another American, Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan, also remains imprisoned in the country on espionage charges he denies. 

President Joe Biden issued a statement Wednesday following Reed’s release, writing “We won’t stop until Paul Whelan and others join Trevor in the loving arms of family and friends.” Biden also wrote, “the negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly.” 

Despite Griner being left out of the message, State Department spokesman Ned Price, who last month announced that she was visited by a U.S. Embassy official who found her in “good condition,” told CNN that the Biden administration has not forgotten about the athlete.  

“When it comes to Brittney Griner, we are working very closely with her team,” Price told CNN on Wednesday. “Her case is a top priority for us. We’re in regular contact with her team.”

Price also said the administration is still working on getting Whelan released as well. “The case of Paul Whelan is one we continue to work day in, day out,” Price said. “Paul Whelan is wrongfully detained in Russia.”

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As news spread about Reed’s release, some social media users questioned why Griner was not included in the exchange and whether she was any closer to coming home, especially as the WNBA season approaches next week. Her wife, Cherelle Griner, also chimed in, welcoming Reed home. 

“As I do everything in my power to get BG home, my heart is overflowing with joy for the Reed Family,” she wrote. “I do not personally know them but I do know the pain of having your loved one detained in a foreign country. That level of pain is constant and can only be remedied by a safe return home.”

Griner’s fate in Russia could be determined soon as she is scheduled to appear in court on May 19. 


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