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US Reclassifies WNBA Star Brittney Griner To Be ‘Wrongfully Detained’ By Russia



US reclassifies WNBA star Brittney Griner to be 'wrongfully detained' by Russia

U.S. Officials Classify WNBA star Brittney Griner To Be ‘wrongfully Detained’ By Russia

The U.S. State Department confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that it has reclassified Brittney Griner as being “wrongfully detained” by the Russian government.

Griner, the All-Star center of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, was arrested and detained in February after the Russian Federal Customs Service said they found vape cartridges with cannabis oil cartridges in her carry-on luggage.

A drug smuggling charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

A state department spokesman confirmed Griner’s reclassification, adding that “the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is among the highest priorities of the U.S. Government” and said it will “continue to undertake efforts to prove appropriate support to Ms. Griner.”

The spokesman declined to give details on how the State Department reached the conclusion that Griner was wrongfully detained.

The new designation by the government could mean a shift in strategy to get Griner home. She is set to have a hearing May 19.

Also, former Gov. Bill Richardson is working on behalf of Griner’s family, at their request, to secure Griner’s safe return. Previously, Richardson and his non-profit, non-government organization helped secure the release of former Marine Trevor Reed, who was detained in Russia for almost three years.

Reed was released in a prisoner swap last week. According to the Richardson Center, the former governor has negotiated the release of more than 20 prisoners and hostages, including American military members and journalists.

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