The U.S. State Department is demanding that Russia allow them to see and speak with Brittney Griner, who is jailed in the tumultuous country.
The demand comes days after the State Dept. Secretary Antony Blinken declined to comment on Griner’s case directly. At the time, Blinken would only say that the U.S. is prepared to “provide every possible assistance” when one of its citizens is locked up abroad. However, on Friday, the department specifically addressed Griner and insisted that Russia “provide consular access,” a previously denied request.
Since mid-February, Griner has been in jail after airport security located vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Her mugshot circulated in early March, and she was photographed Thursday during her court hearing. However, other sightings and updates regarding her status have been scarce. During this week’s court hearing, Griner was denied house arrest and ordered to stay behind bars until May.
During the WNBA offseason, Griner, 31, plays for the Russian league UMMC Ekaterinburg. In 2021, she led the Russian team to its fifth EuroLeague Women’s championship.
If convicted, Griner could face up to ten years in prison.