State Department Says Russia Denied Access To WNBA Star Brittney Griner

Under Russian law, the Phoenix Mercury player could be detained for up to 12 months. She is accused of bringing vape cartridges containing hashish oil into the country.

March 19, 2022
WNBA star Brittney Griner wears a white USA jersey at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.


Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States looks on against Serbia during the second half of a Women's Basketball Semifinals game on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 06, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Photo by: Getty / Kevin C. Cox

Getty / Kevin C. Cox

The U.S. State Department said they are working overtime to get access to WNBA star Brittney Griner, whose stay in a Russian jail has been extended through mid-May, according to Russian state news, per CNN.

According to a Fox News report, a member of Russia’s Public Monitoring Commission told the Russian news agency TASS, “a representative from the U.S. consulate has not visited Griner despite the administration of the pre-trial detention center being ready to create all conditions for his visit.”

But the State Department said they’ve been trying to reach all U.S. citizens detained in Russia—including Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury.

“We have repeatedly asked for consular access to these detainees and have consistently been denied access," a State Department spokesperson told Reuters. “Russia must abide by its legal obligations and allow us to provide consular services for U.S. citizens detained in Russia.”

Griner was originally arrested in Moscow on Feb. 17, on drug charges. According to ESPN, the 31-year-old is accused of bringing vape cartridges containing hashish oil, oil derived from cannabis, into Russia. Hashish is an illegal substance in Russia.

Under Russian law, defendants can be held up to 12 months before trial and up to 18 months, “in extraordinary cases,” Tom Firestone, former resident legal adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, told ESPN.

Griner’s jailing comes during a time when tensions between the United States and Russia are high following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This continues to be a complex situation that is extremely difficult for Brittney, her family, and all who are hoping for a swift resolution,” the WNBA said in a statement, obtained by Reuters. “Our number one priority remains her safe return.”

“My heart, our hearts, are all skipping beats every day that goes by. I miss your voice. I miss your presence,” Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, wrote on Instagram. “I’m hurting, we’re hurting. We await the day to love on you as a family.”

Next Up

WNBA Star Brittney Griner Now Considered ‘Wrongfully Detained,’ In Russia

The Phoenix Mercury basketball player has been held in a Russian jail since February, amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

P.I. Says Red Sox Hall Of Famer David Ortiz Was Targeted By Drug Kingpin In 2019

The results come after a six-month private investigation by a former Boston police commissioner who was hired by Ortiz to investigate who shot him at a Dominican nightclub.

Tattooed Lady Behind Bars After Shoplifting From Ohio Walmart

See what Alyssa Breanne Zebrasky looked like before she inked her face.

Man Tried To Murder 95-Year-Old Mother-In-Law By Spiking Coffee With Meth

Esther Price fell ill after her daughter’s husband, Jack David Price, 56, made the out-of-the-ordinary gesture of coming to her house to give her coffee.

Student Studying Abroad In Russia Found Dead After Sending Her Mother Troubling Text

American Catherine Serou sent her mother a text that read, ‘I hope I’m not being abducted.’

Woman Admits Killing Her Husband With Surprising Weapon: Common Eye Drops

York County police said that Lana Clayton confessed after an autopsy uncovered a high amount of tetrahydrozoline in her husband's body.

Martin ‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli Released From Prison Early, Staying In A Halfway House

Martin Shkreli, dubbed a “Pharma Bro”, was convicted of fraud and spent a little over four of his seven-year sentence behind bars.

Update: Is Samuel Little America's Most Prolific Serial Killer With Up To 90 Murders?

By comparison, Gary Ridgway, the infamous Green River Killer, is currently considered the country’s worst serial killer following his conviction for murdering 49 victims in Washington during the 1980s and ’90s.

True Crime News Roundup: 4 Suspects Arrested In Connection To ‘The Wire’ Actor Michael K. Williams’ Overdose Death

Plus: The FBI is investigating a spate of bomb threats against historically Black colleges and universities as a hate crime; and ‘RHOC’ star Elizabeth Vargas’ ex-boyfriend barricades himself inside her house.