State Department: Brittney Griner Visited by Consular Official for 2nd Time in Week

Erin WalshMay 20, 2022

FILE - Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner pauses on the court during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm, Sept. 3, 2019, in Phoenix. The Biden administration has determined that Griner is being wrongfully detained in Russia, meaning the United States will more aggressively work to secure her release even as the legal case against her plays out, two U.S. officials said Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File

WNBA star Brittney Griner was visited Thursday by a consular official for the second time in a week, the State Department said Friday, according to ESPN.

Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February, is "continuing to do as well as could be expected under these exceedingly challenging circumstances," State Department representative Ned Price said in a briefing. 

"But again, our message is a clear and simple oneβ€”we continue to insist that Russia allow consistent and timely consular access to all U.S. citizen detainees. One-off visits are not sufficient, and we will continue to call on Moscow to uphold its commitments under the Vienna Convention for consistent and timely access as well."

ESPN reports Griner has been visited by her lawyers at least once a week while detained. The 31-year-old appeared in court earlier this month and had her pretrial detention extended into June, per the Associated Press. 

Russian officials detained Griner in February at a Moscow airport after they allegedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. It happened just before Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, which is ongoing. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in March the United States would provide assistance to any citizen being detained in Russia and that U.S. officials are "doing everything we can" to protect the rights of those detained.

The Biden administration has since reclassified Griner as being "wrongfully detained," meaning it is not waiting for her case to play out in the Russian legal system and will instead negotiate her release. 

Griner is one of a number of WNBA stars who play overseas during the offseason. She last played for Russia's UMMC Ekaterinburg in January. 

The Phoenix Mercury selected Griner first overall in the 2013 WNBA draft, and she has gone on to have a successful career, averaging 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 254 games across nine seasons.