Rights groups call on Biden to negotiate for WNBA star Griner’s release By Reuters

by Msnbctv news staff

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Brittney Griner of the US congratulates a crew mate throughout their Girls’s Basketball Gold Medal recreation towards Japan on the Tokyo 2020 Summer time Olympics on the Saitama Tremendous Enviornment in Saitama, Japan, August 8, 2021. Image taken August

By Rory Carroll

(Reuters) -A coalition of human rights teams on Wednesday known as on U.S. President Joe Biden to “make a deal” to safe the discharge of WNBA star Brittney Griner who has been detained in Russia for months.

Griner was taken into custody at a Moscow airport on Feb. 17 when a search of her baggage allegedly revealed a number of hashish oil vape cartridges. She may withstand 10 years in jail.

Final week her pre-trial detention was prolonged to July 2.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone on Wednesday night with Cherelle Griner, the spouse of the two-time Olympic champion, a senior State Division official stated, with out giving particulars on the content material of the decision.

On Tuesday, the State Division stated Griner was unable to talk to her spouse over the weekend as scheduled because of a logistical subject that was compounded by Russia’s restrictions on the U.S. embassy’s operations in Moscow.

Forty advocacy teams together with the Nationwide Group for Girls, Human Rights Marketing campaign and GLAAD stated they appreciated the Biden administration’s efforts, which included labeling the 31-year-old “wrongfully detained” in Might and assigning diplomats to work for her launch.

However they stated extra must be executed.

“The U.S. Authorities has acknowledged that Brittney is basically a political pawn in classifying her as wrongfully detained,” the teams stated in a letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris that was seen by Reuters.

“Whereas these have been critically necessary measures, we now urge you to make a deal to get Brittney again residence to America instantly and safely.”

Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the Nationwide Safety Council, instructed Reuters that the federal government is exploring all avenues to safe Griner’s launch.

“President Biden has been clear about the necessity to see all U.S. nationals who’re held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas launched, together with Brittney Griner,” Watson stated in an e mail.

“The U.S. authorities continues to work aggressively – utilizing each obtainable means – to carry her residence.”

One of many brightest stars within the top-flight U.S. ladies’s skilled basketball league, Griner is a WNBA champion, seven-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Griner’s arrest at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport got here as diplomatic relations between Washington and Moscow deteriorated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “particular army operation”.

Griner has for years performed for a Russian skilled crew in the course of the WNBA low season to assist complement her revenue. She is a seven-time Russian League champion.

On Monday, a Kremlin spokesman stated Griner was responsible of drug offences and never a hostage.

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