Blinken on WNBA star detained in Russia: US will ‘provide every possible assistance’
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said that the United States will “provide every possible assistance” to citizens who are being held in foreign countries when asked about WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia.
Blinken refused to share specifics regarding Griner’s case when asked by reporters in Moldova and said “With regard to the individual you mentioned, there’s only so much I can say given the privacy considerations at this point.”
He added that whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, “we, of course, stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia.”
Blinken said an embassy team is currently working on the cases of other Americans who are detained in Russia.
“We’re doing everything we can to see to it that their rights are upheld and respected,” he said.
He added that Americans have been advised not to travel to Russia and have issued alerts to U.S. citizens in Russia to leave the country.
Blinken made his remarks at a joint news conference on Sunday with Moldovan president Maia Sandu and mentioned two other Americans detained in Russia — Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed.
Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star who plays for the Phoenix Mercury as well as a Russian team during WNBA off-seasons, was detained by the Russian Federal Customs Service for possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil at Sheremetyevo airport on Saturday.
The U.S. Department of State confirmed reports to The Hill, saying, “We are aware of reports of a U.S. citizen arrested in Moscow. Whenever a U.S. citizen is arrested overseas, we stand ready to provide all appropriate consular services.”
However, many are concerned over the timing of Griner’s detainment as relations between Russia and the West over the invasion of Ukraine continue to deteriorate.