Russian Official Rejects U.S. ‘Wrongful Detention’ Charge Over Brittney Griner

Russian Official Rejects U.S. ‘Wrongful Detention’ Charge Over Brittney Griner

Griner faces up to a decade in prison if convicted.


A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman has stated that the United States is showing disrespect for Russian law by characterizing WNBA star Brittney Griner’s jailing on drug charges as “wrongful detention,” the Associated Press reported.

The spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, noted that the legal status of cannabis for medical and recreational use in parts of the United States will have no bearing on what happens in Russia.


“If a U.S. citizen was taken in connection with the fact that she was smuggling drugs, and she does not deny this, then this should be commensurate with our Russian, local laws, and not with those adopted in San Francisco, New York. and Washington,” she said.

“You understand, if drugs are legalized in the United States, in a number of states, and this is done for a long time, and now the whole country will become drug-addicted, this does not mean that all other countries are following the same path,” she continued.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17 after the Russian Federal Customs Service claimed to have found vape cartridges containing the marijuana concentrate hashish oil in her luggage. The Biden administration has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained.”

During her hearing, Griner told the judge that she had done so “inadvertently” while asking the court for mercy. Her lawyer also gave the court a U.S. doctor's letter recommending that she use medical cannabis to treat pain. Medical marijuana is not legal in Russia.

Griner faces up to a decade in prison if convicted. Her trial is scheduled to resume on Tuesday.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that reinforces the U.S. government’s efforts to support families of Americans wrongfully detained or held hostage overseas and impose sanctions on the criminals, terrorists, or government officials who hold them captive.

Furthermore, a bipartisan Senate resolution, authored by Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), called for the immediate release of Griner.

The resolution also offered support for Griner's family, Paul Whelan, another American who is detained in Russia, and all of the other “prisoners unjustly imprisoned in the Russian Federation.”

“I've worked with the State Department to make sure that Brittney Griner's safe return is a top priority, and this bipartisan resolution shows the Senate's support for her as well,” Kelly said in a statement.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters.