Brittney Griner Speaks To Reporters For First Time Since Release From Russia

PHOENIX — Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who turned the middle of a geopolitical showdown between the United States and Russia final yr, is predicted to talk with reporters on Thursday for the primary time since her launch in December in a prisoner trade.

Ms. Griner, 32, deliberate to talk with reporters as her staff, the Phoenix Mercury, prepares for the beginning of its season on May 19, and because the United States and Russia conflict over the detention of one other American, the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. , who’s accused of espionage.

Mercury officers mentioned that Ms. Griner wouldn’t talk about her time in Russia on the information convention. She has referred to as for the discharge of Mr. Gershkovich and others categorized as wrongful detainees by the US authorities.

She was detained after customs officers at an airport close to Moscow discovered a small quantity of marijuana focus in vape cartridges in her baggage in February 2022. In May, the US State Department mentioned she had been wrongfully detained. She and Mr. Gershkovich has develop into the newest in a line of American residents detained by Moscow beneath what US officers have described as doubtful accusations.

A Russian courtroom convicted her of drug smuggling, and in August, Ms. Griner was sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony. She was freed as a part of a prisoner trade in December; Viktor Bout, an arms vendor nicknamed the Merchant of Death, was despatched again to Russia. He had been convicted in 2011 on costs that included conspiring to kill American residents. Ms. Griner and Mr. Bout crossed paths on a tarmac within the United Arab Emirates, the positioning of the trade.

Mr. Gershkovich, 31, was detained by Russian safety companies in late March and charged with espionage in mid-April, an accusation that his employer and US officers strongly deny. While Mr. Gershkovich has been capable of meet with Russian attorneys, the State Department had repeatedly referred to as for the Russian authorities to grant consular entry.

He is being held at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, a facility the place inmates are held in isolation with uncommon visits from attorneys. Russia’s overseas minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, this week recommended that there was the potential of a prisoner swap together with Mr. Gershkovich, much like the commerce of Ms. Griner for Mr. Bout.

In a information convention on the United Nations, Mr. Lavrov mentioned that Mr. Gershkovich and one other American prisoner being held in Russia, Paul Whelan, had been caught “after they have been committing against the law, receiving materials” containing state secrets and techniques.

Ms. Griner mentioned this month that she deliberate to put in writing a memoir about her detention in Russia that she hoped would increase consciousness about individuals who have been wrongfully detained. The ebook, scheduled to be launched subsequent yr, would describe “the terrifying facets of day-to-day life in a ladies’s penal colony,” in response to an announcement from Alfred A. Knopf, the writer.

She shortly signaled after she returned to the United States that she deliberate to return to the WNBA, and she or he signed a one-year contract with the Mercury to get again on the courtroom. She final performed within the league in 2021 and had produced among the best campaigns of her profession, averaging 20.5 factors and 9.5 rebounds per recreation and reaching the WNBA finals, the place her staff misplaced to the Chicago Sky.

Chris Rhim reported from Phoenix and Alan Yuhas reported from New York.

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