White House says WNBA star Brittney Griner case has ‘fullest attention of the president’

FILE – Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner is shown during the first half of Game 2 of basketball’s WNBA Finals against the Chicago Sky, Oct. 13, 2021, in Phoenix. Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained at a Russian airport on February 17 after authorities there said a search of her bag revealed vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has not heard the WNBA star’s voice even once in the four months since her arrest in Moscow. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday said that case of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is detained in Russia, has the full attention of President Biden.

“It has the fullest attention of the president and every senior member of his national security and diplomatic team, and we are actively working to find a resolution to this case and will continue to do so without rest until we get Brittney safely home,” Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One.

Griner’s detention was extended for six months on Monday, pending the outcome of a trial that is scheduled to start on Friday. She made an appearance in a Russian court and was ordered to stand trial on cannabis possession charges following her arrest more than four months ago. She could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Sullivan on Tuesday said he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have both spoken in the last few days with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, to “convey our very deep sympathy, convey that we just can’t even begin to imagine what the family must be going through, what Brittney must be going through.”

Cherelle Griner last week said she hasn’t spoken to her wife since February and that she tried to call through the U.S. Embassy in Russia for their anniversary but they were never connected.

Sullivan reiterated to reporters that Brittney Griner is “wrongfully” and “unjustly” detained and called for her safe release.

“The United States government is actively engaged with trying to solve this case and get Brittney home,” he added, but wouldn’t go into details. Sullivan also didn’t provide an update on how Griner is doing when asked by a reporter.

Multiple organizations, including the NAACP, the Human Rights Campaign and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, have called on Biden to broker a deal with Russia for Griner’s release.

Sullivan on Tuesday also said that the U.S. is working to return all unjustly detained Americans in Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, Venezuela and China. His comments come as Biden is traveling to Spain for a NATO meeting.

Tags Antony Blinken Biden Brittney Griner Jake Sullivan

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