by Alexis Barton
Former WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was recently detained in Russia. In late February, Griner’s mugshot was released without much information regarding her whereabouts or wellbeing, aside from the allegation that she had tried to go through Russian customs with drug paraphernalia, including a CBD vaporizer pen.
News of her arrest and subsequent detention came mere days following the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine, leading many to believe that Griner’s detention is a message from the Russian government to the United States. It is unclear when exactly Griner was arrested, with some sources suggesting that it could have been up to a month before her mugshot was shared.
American advocates are outraged by the arrest, pointing to the inequalities that Black women face both in the United States and, apparently, in Russia regarding drug use. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out simply saying “Free Brittney”. Many are classifying Griner as a “high-profile hostage” that is being used as a pawn by the Russian government as they continue to wage war against their neighbors.
Griner’s detention was extended until late May. Drug laws in Russia are incredibly stringent, with Griner facing upwards of ten years in prison if convicted.