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US Reclassifies Brittney Griner's Detainment in Russia

Detained in Russia over allegations of bringing cannabis into the country, Brittney Griner is now classified as "being wrongfully detained" which could expedite her release.
US Reclassifies Brittney Griner's Detainment in Russia

Griner, a double-Olympic champion, faces 10 years in jail if she is convicted by a Russian court, but hopeful news emerged this week when the Biden administration determined that Griner is "being wrongfully detained," The Guardian reports.

US officials have now shifted Griner’s case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs which will focus on negotiating her release.

Brittney Griner’s detainment in Russia weighs heavy on WNBA as new season starts (The Guardian)

Excerpt from The Guardian: "It’s great news that the US government has reclassified her Russian detainment," says Alexis Mrachek, policy analyst for Russia and Eurasia at The Heritage Foundation. "The fact that she is now officially ‘wrongfully detained’ means that the executive branch will be working that much harder behind the scenes to bring her home. However, it could also mean that the Russian government will push back harder against the US seeking her release." 
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According to ESPN, the U.S. government now considers WNBA star Brittney Griner to be "wrongfully detained" by the Russian government, signaling a significant shift in how officials will try to get her home. "The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is among the highest priorities of the U.S government," the State Department said.  

U.S. reclassifies WNBA star Brittney Griner as 'wrongfully detained' by Russia (ESPN)

Excerpt from ESPN: The officials and other sources close to Griner's case declined to say what led to the shift or whether there have been any discussions about what it would take to secure her release. "Brittney has been detained for 75 days and our expectation is that the White House do whatever is necessary to bring her home," Griner's agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said in a statement to ESPN. The change in official designation means that the U.S. government will no longer wait for Griner's case to play out through the Russian legal system and will seek to negotiate her return.
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In a related development, Trevor Reed's release from Russian imprisonment was met with applause and fanfare Wednesday, but raised questions, and some outrage, over the fate of jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner, writes NBC News.

The 31-year-old Griner was arrested in February after Russian officials said they found vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. She’s been in Russian custody ever since.

'What about Brittney Griner?' After Trevor Reed's release, questions swirl over fate of WNBA star (NBC News)

Excerpt from NBC News: News of the U.S.-Russia prisoner exchange that freed Reed, a 30-year-old former U.S. Marine from Texas, was met with mixed social media reactions. Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, said on Instagram that her "heart is overflowing with joy for The Reed Family. I do not personally know them, but I do the pain of having your loved one detained in a foreign country. That level of pain is constant and can only be remediated by a safe return home. For the Reed family, that day is today."
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