According to a representative for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brittney Griner will be handled the same as other offenders in their nation.
Dmitry Peskov, the top spokesman for the Putin administration, spoke with NBC News on Monday. During the interview, he made it clear that the Russian government would not be allowing Griner any grace due to her celebrity status, comparing her case to “hundreds and hundreds of Russian citizens that were sentenced for carrying hashish.” Peskov questioned why Russia should make any exceptions for a foreign citizen.
Since February, Griner has been in Russian custody after vape cartridges containing hashish oil were found in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo Airport. In May, the United States government declared that the country was wrongfully detaining Griner. Yet, she has not been released, and as of now, there are no plans to do so. Griner’s detention has been extended three times.
A major concern amongst the WNBA and those working to free her is that she may be held as a “political pawn,” though Peskov insists her incarceration is the result of her own actions.
“She violated Russian law, and now she’s being prosecuted,” Peskov said to NBC News correspondent Keir Simmons. “It’s not about being a hostage. There are lots of American citizens here. They’re enjoying their freedoms … but you have to obey the laws.”
Griner’s wife, Cherelle, slammed the U.S. Embassy in Russia after a failed scheduled phone call with Griner over the weekend. The call was never connected, despite the 31-year-old trying to contact Cherelle 11 times. The Embassy blamed the mishap on understaffing and said they’ve rescheduled that call. Yet, such instances have fueled the belief that Griner is being treated unfairly.
If convicted, Griner faces ten years in prison.