As basketball star Brittney Griner remains detained in Russia, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league is trying “everything we can” to return Griner to the United States.
“This is an unimaginable situation for BG to be in,” Engelbert said. “She continues to have our full support, and she's just been such a great person in the league. I can't be any more real about the situation she's in. Certainly, we're trying everything we can, every angle, working through with her legal representation, her agent, elected leaders, the administration, just everybody in our ecosystem to try and find ways to get her home safely and as quickly as we can.”
The 31-year-old has been one of the league’s most prolific stars since her 2013 professional debut. She is a seven-time All-Star and consistently one of the WNBA’s top scorers.
Despite her stardom in the WNBA, unlike her counterparts in the NBA, she also plays professionally overseas.
While playing in Russia, Griner was reportedly arrested in February for possessing hash oil.
Engelbert said that the league has confirmed Griner is safe.
“It's just a very complex situation right now, and we're following the advice,” she said. “There's not a day that goes by that we're not talking to someone who has views on what we've been doing and how we're moving forward. I know we're all frustrated, but we do need to be patient. I know the players have been amazing at following the advice that they're getting and we're getting in order not to jeopardize her safety in any way.”
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said U.S. consular officials visited Griner on March 23.
“We have, beyond one-off consular visits, continued to insist that Russian authorities allow consistent, timely consular access to all U.S. citizens who are detained in Russia,” Price said on Tuesday. “That includes those who are in pre-trial detention, including Brittney Griner. We are in frequent contact with her legal team, with her broader network, and we have no higher priority than the safety and security of Americans, including those who are incarcerated in Russia.”