Blinken on Griner: U.S. ready to help all citizens

Blinken on Griner: U.S. ready to help all citizens

March 7, 2022

Reacting to WNBA star Brittney Griner being detained in Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the U.S. will “provide every possible assistance” to citizens who are being held in foreign countries.

“There’s only so much I can say given the privacy considerations at this point,” Blinken said of Griner. “Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we of course stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia.”

He added: “We have an embassy team that’s working on the cases of other Americans who are detained in Russia. We’re doing everything we can to see to it that their rights are upheld and respected.”

Blinken made his remarks at a joint news conference with Moldova president Maia Sandu.

Griner is being detained in Russia after customs officials said they found hashish oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow in February.

Like many WNBA players, Griner has long played overseas in the winter months, most recently in Russia.

The State Department issued a “do not travel” advisory for Russia on Jan. 23 that warned Americans against traveling to Russia because of “the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.”

Another “do not travel” advisory was issued Saturday, nine days after Russia began its military invasion of Ukraine.

The 31-year-old Griner has played nine seasons with the Phoenix Mercury, who lost in the WNBA Finals last October to Chicago. She won a championship with the Mercury in 2014 and gold medals with the United States at the Olympics in 2016 and 2021.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

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