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Wife of Russian prisoner and WNBA star Brittney Griner speaks out as fears grow that Putin will use the former Olympian as a 'high-profile hostage'
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Wife of Russian prisoner and WNBA star Brittney Griner speaks out as fears grow that Putin will use the former Olympian as a 'high-profile hostage'

The wife of WNBA star and Russian captive Brittney Griner says that she and Griner's team are tirelessly working to get the basketball star home after the celebrated Olympian was detained at a Russian airport at least three weeks ago for reportedly having a cannabis-filled vape pen on her person.

The longer Griner spends incarcerated in Russia, the longer fears continue to grow over the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use the WNBA star as a "high-profile hostage," the Daily Mail reported on Sunday.

What are the details?

Wife Cherelle Griner on Saturday night shared an update on Instagram, writing, "I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life. I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely."

"Your prayers, and support," she added, "are greatly appreciated."

According to the report, Eveyln Farkas, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine, said that she fears Russia may use Griner as a "high-profile hostage," and noted that if the U.S. wants Griner out of jail, "Russia is going to have some terms."

"It could be a prisoner swap," she added. "They could also use it as an implicit threat or blackmail to get us to do something or not do something. Either way, they find it useful."

What else?

Griner's agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, told the outlet that the basketball star's team is in "close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her fears, and the WNBA and NBA."

"As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern," Colas added in the statement.

During a Saturday press conference, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said that she is working hard to return Griner to the U.S.

"Brittney Griner is a United States citizen, she was a guest in Russia ... and I will be demanding her release," she said. "I don't want to disregard a sovereign nation, but Putin has disregarded sovereign nations his entire service in this world and anyone that is killing and attacking and destroying Ukraine, their neighboring country — that does not bother them has no right to hold Ms. Griner. Period. If there is challenges and concerns about her actions, it should be dealt with diplomatically and she should be released."

She continued, "I believe that at this time, in the midst of war, how dangerous being Moscow, how dangerous it is to be in Moscow prisons ... it is no place for her. I would call upon Russia at this time to really stop harassing U.S. citizens, but more importantly to release those that are there and to not claim any upper hand or any sense of character in the pillage of murder and terroristic actions against the Ukrainians."

A timeline

The Daily Mail reported that Griner played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia before the WNBA took a two-week hiatus in early February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments. Griner was said to have "made her last communication" in posting a photo to Instagram on Feb. 5.

On Feb. 11, President Joe Biden called on all Americans to evacuate the region. It is believed she was taken into custody around that time, and by Feb. 24, Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

On March 5, the Russian Federal Customs Service announced that it detained a "two-time Olympic basketball champion" on suspicion of drugs.

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