Brittney Griner Arrest in Russia: State Department Says WNBA Star ‘Doing as Well as Expected’

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The State Department responded Thursday to a letter from Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Burgess Owens, R-Utah, calling on the Biden administration to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, letting him know that Americans will not be made political pawns amid the country’s war against Ukraine.

The March 10 letter, which Fox News Digital obtained exclusively, expressed concerns about Brittney Griner’s detention in the country. Griner was arrested in February after Russian officials said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges containing cannabis-derived oil.

Griner could face a decade in prison if convicted.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on March 21.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on March 21.
(Kevin Lamarque, Pool via AP, File)

Fox News Digital obtained the State Department’s response sent to Donalds office more than a month later.

“A top priority of the Department of State is to provide assistance to U.S. citizens incarcerated or detained abroad. The Department understands your concern about the detention of Ms. Griner,” read the letter dated 14 april.

“On February 17, customs police at a Moscow airport arrested Ms. Griner, alleging she was smuggling narcotics. Ms. Griner has had constant access to her legal team. She is currently in pre-trial detention at outside Moscow. At a hearing on March 17, the Russian court extended Ms Griner’s detention until May 17. The consular chief of the US Embassy in Moscow was allowed to visit to Mrs. Griner on March 23. Mrs. Griner is doing as well as expected.

Brittney Griner competing at the Olympic Games in Japan in 2021.

Brittney Griner competing at the Olympic Games in Japan in 2021.
(Jean Catuffe/Getty Images, file)

Donalds responded to the letter in a statement to Fox News Digital.

“While I appreciate the State Department’s response, the contents of the letter do little to alleviate my discomfort with Americans currently being held in Putin’s ruined Russia,” Donalds said. “State Department Biden’s handling of this situation is slow and lacks the vigor necessary to get our people home quickly. As evidenced by the Trump administration, now is the time for the Biden administration to resort to a unconventional diplomacy to facilitate the release of every American detained in Russia.”

Few details about Griner’s well-being have been of concern since his arrest.

WNBA STAR NNEKA OGWUMIKE ADDRESSES DETENTION OF BRITTNEY GRINER, WHY PLAYERS HAVE ‘STRATEGIC’ APPROACH

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaking ahead of the WNBA Draft on April 11.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaking ahead of the WNBA Draft on April 11.
(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert spoke to reporters Monday on Griner ahead of the WNBA draft and before announcing the Atlanta Dream is in.

Engelbert said officials inside and outside the WNBA are working hard to bring her home.

“It’s an unimaginable situation for BG. She continues to have our full support, and she’s just a great person in the league,” she added. “I can’t be more realistic about the situation she finds herself in, and we are certainly trying everything we can, from every angle, working with her legal representation, agent, elected officials, administration and everyone in our ecosystem to try to find ways to get her home safely and as quickly as possible.”

Brittney Griner pictured in an undated photo after her arrest.

Brittney Griner pictured in an undated photo after her arrest.
(Russian State Television)

Engelbert added that bringing Griner home was “the top priority.”

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Griner could face up to 10 years in a Russian prison if convicted.

The WNBA season is scheduled to begin on May 6.

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