Federal officials continue work to free Mercury star Brittney Griner from Russian detainment

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 9:57pm

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Brittney Griner
Kynan Marlin/Cronkite News
Brittney Griner in 2019.

Federal officials are continuing efforts to free Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February.

Griner was arrested after Russian officials claimed they found cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at the airport.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution Friday calling for Griner’s release. Arizona Congressman Greg Stanton introduced the resolution last month, saying it was time for the country to speak on Griner’s behalf.

“It’s time for the House to speak with one unified voice, and call for Brittney’s safe return, and to show support for every American wrongfully detained in Russia,” said Stanton in his address to the House on Friday.

Members of the Mercury met with the State Department earlier this month, including officials from its specialized office that advocates for hostages and wrongfully detained Americans.

On CNN Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was focused on freeing multiple Americans imprisoned overseas.

“I’ve got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home. And that includes Paul Whelan, and that includes Britney Griner,” said Blinken.

Blinken would not speak on reports of a possible prisoner swap for Griner or for Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, who was detained in Russia in 2018.

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