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Russia Releases Mug Shot of WNBA's Brittney Griner — Questions Arise

Britteny Griner

It comes as some question why Griner's story hasn't been bigger news. 


Russian state TV showed a photo of WNBA star Brittney Griner holding a piece of paper toward the camera with her name on it. It's the first time the out Phoenix Mercury basketball player has been seen since news of her arrest in Russia broke over the weekend.

The 31-year-old has been detained on drug charges in Russia-- which has been heavily sanctioned by the U.S. and other countries over its invasion of Ukraine -- after customs agents at the Sheremetyevo International Airport found vape cartridges containing liquid with hashish oil in February.

Russian authorities told CNN that Griner faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

TheIntelligencer posted an article Tuesday questioning why Griner's arrest and detainment in Russia haven't been more of a news item.

Griner has won two Olympic gold medals and is considered one of the best players in WNBA history. "She is the apex of her sport. She is the best of the best. She is a legend," the Intelligencer wrote.

The outlet asks how one of the greatest athletes in the U.S. could be detained by a foreign country, one that has been ostracized by the world, and it not be covered until the Russian state news released information about the arrest.

"Making equivalences between sports only takes you so far here, but seriously: Imagine if Tom Brady were being held by Russian officials right now," the outlet wrote.

"As Griner sits in detention in Russia, as a result of a system that is set up to devalue her and other stars at every corner, it would be nice if her plight received attention commensurate with its seriousness."

News of Griner's detainment has consistently been released by Russian authorities and the Russian media. U.S. organizations working on Griner's behalf have only confirmed reports but not broken any news on the matter. This has led some to believe that it has been a Russian strategy to make Griner's detainment a news item.

"Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely," her wife, Cherelle Griner, wrote in her first public statement about the incident.

On Sunday, answering a question about Griner's arrest, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a news conference, "Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we, of course, stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia."

"We have an embassy team that's working on the cases of other Americans who are detained in Russia," he said. "We're doing everything we can to see to it that their rights are upheld and respected."

This week, Cherelle Griner shared a selfie of the basketball icon on Monday. She wrote in the caption, "We love you babe! People say 'stay busy.' Yet, there's not a task in this world that could keep any of us from wondering if you are safe."

"My heart, our hearts, are all skipping beats every day that goes by without hearing from you," she continued. "I miss your voice. I miss your presence. You're our person! There are no words to express this pain. I'm hurting, we're hurting. We await the day to love on you as a family."

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