Russia is speaking out against the United States in the Brittney Griner case, just a day after the Phoenix Mercury star was front and center with the ESPYs.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that the United States classifying Griner as “wrongfully detained” showed a flagrant disrespect for Russian law. Even though marijuana is legal in various states, Zakharova said, it doesn’t matter in Russia.
“If an American citizen has been caught smuggling drugs, and she doesn’t deny it, it should be commensurate with our local Russian laws, not those passed in San Francisco, New York and Washington,” Zakharova said, via The Associated Press.
Griner was first arrested in February after officials said they found vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. Since then, she has been detained in Russia and faces up to 10 years in prison. His trial will resume next week.
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Griner pleaded guilty to the charge, even though this strategy was widely expected. She admitted he had the vape cartridges in court, but said she had no intention of breaking the law.
The United States government has declared Griner a “wrongfully detained” citizen, and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is reportedly working to secure her release. There are reports that Russia is ready to trade Griner for a convicted arms dealer, Viktor Bout.
Stephen Curry and others demand Brittney Griner’s release from ESPYs
Just hours before Zakharova was to speak, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry joined many other sports players in demanding Griner’s release from the ESPYs.
Curry hosted ESPN’s annual awards show on Wednesday night from the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.
“But while we hope for the best, we urge the entire global sporting community to continue to stay energized on their behalf,” Curry said. “Brittney’s not just a member of the Phoenix Mercury. She’s not just a member of her team in Russia. She’s not just an Olympian. She’s one of us, the athlete team in this room tonight and all over the world. A team that has nothing to do with politics or world conflicts.”
Skylar Diggins-Smith was one of many WNBA players to speak out during the show.
“It has now been 153 nights that BG has been wrongfully detained thousands of miles from her home, away from her family, away from her friends, away from her team,” Diggins-Smith said. “Throughout this time we have kept her in our thoughts and in our hearts even though we know it’s not enough to bring her home, y’all.”
USWNT star Megan Rapinoe, who won the ESPY for Best Game, has spoken out again.
“I honestly think what we witnessed tonight is the importance of sport and all that we can bring and all that we can do in the world just with our collective power,” Rapinoe said. “I think for me the most striking thing is that BG is not there… Every time we say his name, every time it’s on social media, every time We say it in the interviews, it puts pressure on everyone, it puts pressure on the administration, it puts pressure on Russia, it puts pressure on Putin, it puts pressure on everyone.
“It lets BG know, also first and foremost, that we love her and miss her and think of her all the time. We’re doing everything we can to get her out, because that’s the most important thing.