On Saturday, Russia said that it had detained an American basketball player on drug charges, subsequently identified as Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, tying a U.S. citizen’s fate to the hazardous standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine.
Brittney Griner Supposedly Was Carrying Vape Cartridges Containing Hashish Oil
The Russian Federal Customs Service claimed that Brittney Griner was held when investigators discovered vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow, and it published a video of a tourist who seemed to be Griner walking through airport security.
Brittney Griner’s identity was not released by the Customs Service, but Griner, a seven-time W.N.B.A. All-Star center for the Mercury, was recognized by the Russian news outlet Tass, citing a law enforcement source.
Griner’s arrest comes at a critical juncture in US-Russia relations since the Cuban missile crisis, as the Biden administration leads a coalition of dozens of countries in placing crippling sanctions on Russia’s economic and political leaders.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin said the penalties were “equivalent to a declaration of war” against his nation. On Saturday, the State Department issued an updated advisory urging Americans to leave Russia immediately, citing the invasion of Ukraine, the “potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials,” and the limited ability of the US Embassy in Moscow to assist American citizens in the country.
A visitor was seen passing through security screening, followed by footage of someone studying a box that looked to be from the traveler’s bag, according to the video published by Russia’s Customs Service. According to the Customs Service, Griner, 31, was screened at the airport in February, suggesting the prospect that he has been in jail for at least many days.
According to the Customs Service, a criminal case has been initiated into the large-scale transportation of narcotics, which in Russia may result in a penalty of up to ten years in jail.