Brittney Griner Speaks to Reporters for the First Time Since Release From Russia

PHOENIX — Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who turned the heart of a geopolitical showdown between the United States and Russia final 12 months, is anticipated to communicate with reporters on Thursday for the first time since her launch in December in a prisoner trade.

Mrs. Griner, 32, deliberate to communicate with reporters as her group, the Phoenix Mercury, prepares for the begin of its season on May 19, and as the United States and Russia conflict over the detention of one other American, the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich , who’s accused of espionage.

Mercury officers mentioned that Ms. Griner wouldn’t talk about her time in Russia at the information convention. She has referred to as for the launch of Mr. Gershkovich and others categorised as wrongful detainees by the US authorities.

She was detained after customs officers at an airport close to Moscow discovered a small quantity of marijuana focus in vape cartridges in her baggage in February 2022. In May, the US State Department mentioned she had been wrongfully detained. She and Mr. Gershkovich has turn into the newest in a line of American residents detained by Moscow beneath what US officers have described as doubtful accusations.

A Russian courtroom convicted her of drug smuggling, and in August, Ms. Griner was sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony. She was freed as a part of a prisoner trade in December; Viktor Bout, an arms supplier nicknamed the Merchant of Death, was despatched again to Russia. He was convicted in 2011 on costs that included conspiring to kill American residents. Mrs. Griner and Mr. Bout crossed paths on a tarmac in the United Arab Emirates, the web site of the trade.

mr. Gershkovich, 31, was detained by Russian safety providers in late March and charged with espionage in mid-April, an accusation that his employer and US officers strongly deny. While Mr. Gershkovich has been in a position to meet with Russian attorneys, the State Department had repeatedly referred to as for the Russian authorities to grant consular entry.

He is being held at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, a facility the place inmates are held in isolation with uncommon visits from attorneys. Russia’s overseas minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, this week instructed that there was the risk of a prisoner swap together with Mr. Gershkovich, comparable to the commerce of Ms. Griner for Mr. Bout.

In a information convention at the United Nations, Mr. Lavrov mentioned that Mr. Gershkovich and one other American prisoner being held in Russia, Paul Whelan, had been caught “once they had been committing a criminal offense, receiving materials” containing state secrets and techniques.

Mrs. Griner mentioned this month that she deliberate to write a memoir about her detention in Russia that she hoped would increase consciousness about individuals who have been wrongfully detained. The ebook, scheduled to be launched subsequent 12 months, would describe “the terrifying points of day-to-day life in a ladies’s penal colony,” in accordance to a press release from Alfred A. Knopf, the writer.

She rapidly signaled after she returned to the United States that she deliberate to return to the WNBA, and he or she signed a one-year contract with the Mercury to get again on the courtroom. She final performed in the league in 2021 and had produced certainly one of the greatest campaigns of her profession, averaging 20.5 factors and 9.5 rebounds per recreation and reaching the WNBA finals, the place her group misplaced to the Chicago Sky.

Kris Rhim reported from Phoenix and Alan Yuhas reported from New York.

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