September 27, 2022

Brittney Griner’s wife thanks supporters after WNBA star detained in Russia

Brittney Griner (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner is dealing with “one of the weakest moments of my life” as the Phoenix Mercury player remains detained in Russia after hashish oil was allegedly found in her luggage at a Moscow airport.

“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated,” Cherelle Griner wrote on Instagram Saturday night, hours after news of Griner’s detention broke.

“I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely.”

Both the WNBA Players Association and Griner’s agent confirmed Saturday that she was the woman shown in a video released by the Russian Federal Customs Service of a traveler going through security at the Sheremetyevo airport, just outside of Moscow.

“Our utmost concern is BG’s safety and well-being,” the WNBAPA said in a statement. “On behalf of The 144, we send our love and support. We will continue to closely monitor and look forward to her return to the U.S.”

Her team, the Phoenix Mercury, said it was in “constant contact” with her family, representation, the WNBA and NBA.

“We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home,” the team said.

Griner, a 31-year-old two-time Olympic gold medalist, was playing with Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg and last took the court on Jan. 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments. It’s unclear how long she has been detained.

Griner, a Houston native, has played in Russia for the last seven offseasons.

Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro said he was “closely monitoring” the situation and Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee called for her immediate release Saturday.

“Brittney Griner is a United States citizen, she was a guest in Russia…and I will be demanding her release,” Lee said at a press conference.

The U.S. State Department issued a no travel advisory Saturday in Russia “due to the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, limited flights into and out of Russia, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.”

Any Americans still in Russia were urged to leave immediately.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken avoided mentioning Griner during an unrelated press conference Sunday, citing “privacy considerations.”

“Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we of course stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia,” he said.