Amid rising tensions between the United States and Russia, Russia detained an American basketball star, Brittney Griner.
According to Russia, she is being detained on drugs charges, which could land her in jail for a five to ten-year term.
American Basketball Star Detained in Russia
The Russian Federal Customs Service stated Griner was arrested after vape cartridges with hashish oil were found in her luggage.
Although the authorities did not release the name of the player, however, a video was released which suggested Griner, who plays for Phoenix Mercury, was the affected American citizen.
Later on, a Russian news agency named Tass confirmed the name of the player.
Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s agent, also did not deny the news and claimed she has been in touch with the player continuously in Russia. Kagawa stated she is also in contact with Griner’s family and her team to settle the issue as soon as possible.
Griner’s detention happened at the grimmest moment in US-Russia relations. Both countries have been at crossroads on the Ukraine issue and America has been teaming up with its global allies to sanction the Cold War foe.
Breaking News: Russian customs officials said they had detained a star American basketball player after finding hashish oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. The Russian news agency TASS has identified the player as Brittney Griner. https://t.co/7rJaQqNyJK
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 5, 2022
Meanwhile, the US State Department issued a travel advisory for Americans living in Russia to leave the country immediately, adding Americans can face discrimination in the country otherwise, due to the Ukraine issue.
A former American ambassador to Russia, Michael A. McFaul, stated while he was not aware of the actual reason for detention, this event should serve as a wake-up call for Americans residing in the troubling country.
Although the episode of Griner’s detention made headlines yesterday, reports are emerging she has been in custody for several days. This is due to the fact the video in which she was getting screened at the airport was from February.
I can’t believe Brittney Griner has been in Russian custody for 3 weeks and the news is just now breaking here. What a nightmare scenario. I cannot even imagine what she must be feeling rn.
— roxane gay (@rgay) March 5, 2022
Russia Can Exploit Griner’s Arrest as a Political Tool
Hash oil, which was allegedly found in Griner’s luggage, is a marijuana concentrate. Although it can be used in a variety of ways, it is usually sold in cartridges to use in vape pens.
Thus, the Customs Service stated a large-scale criminal case has been opened for drug transportation, which could result in a prison term of ten years.
Over time, America has accused Russia of detaining its citizens on forged charges. Experts believe this case can also be an engineered one, as Russia is trying hard to gain political leverage on America in the persisting crisis.
For everyone involved in Griner’s case, taking care of the player’s mental and physical health is a topmost priority, the agent said.
Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas asserted this is yet another event of Russia detaining American citizens wrongly, adding everyone arrested this way, including Trevor Reed, a former Marine of America, must be returned immediately.