MOSCOW — Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman lashed out at the United States on Thursday, characterizing the detention of basketball star Brittney Griner on drug charges as a “wrongful detention,” saying it shows disregard for Russian law.
Griner has been in jail since she was arrested at a Moscow airport in mid-February after vape canisters containing hash oil were found in her luggage. The Phoenix Mercury standout and two-time Olympic gold medalist admitted in court this month that she had the canisters but said she had no intention of breaking the law.
If convicted, she faces up to ten years in prison. Her trial is scheduled to continue on Tuesday.
The State Department in May labeled Griner wrongly imprisoned and placed her case under the oversight of the President’s special envoy for hostage affairs — effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at improving the flow of information to families of Americans detained abroad and imposing penalties on criminals, terrorists or government officials who hold them captive.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that the legalization of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use in parts of the US has no bearing on what is happening in Russia.
“If a US citizen has been arrested in connection with drug smuggling and she doesn’t deny it, then this should be in accordance with our Russian, local laws and not those of San Francisco, New York and Washington,” Zakharova said.
Russian media have speculated that Griner could be swapped for prominent Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is jailed in the United States, and that Paul Whelan, an American jailed in Russia for espionage, could also be involved in an exchange.
US officials have not commented on the prospects for such a trade. Russian officials said no exchange could be discussed until the court case against Griner was completed. It’s unclear how long the trial will last, but a court has authorized Griner’s detention until December 20.
https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/34274909/russian-official-united-states-disrespectful-wrongful-detention-claim-brittney-griner Russian official — United States disrespectful with ‘wrongful detention’ claim on Brittney Griner