U.S. Officials Meet With Brittney Griner in Jail: She’s ‘Doing as Well as Can Be Expected’ After Losing Appeal

TOPSHOT-RUSSIA-US-BASKETBALL-COURT-APPEAL - Credit: AFP via Getty Images
TOPSHOT-RUSSIA-US-BASKETBALL-COURT-APPEAL - Credit: AFP via Getty Images

Members of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow visited Brittney Griner on Thursday, just over a week after the WNBA star lost her appeal on drug smuggling charges.

“We are told she is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday (via the New York Times).

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Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, added in a tweet that “officials visited Brittney Griner today. They saw firsthand her tenacity and perseverance despite her present circumstances. We continue to press for the immediate release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan and fair treatment for every detained American.”

The visit came a week after a Russian judge upheld the nine-year prison sentence against Griner, who was found guilty of smuggling vape cartridges with cannabis oil into Russia. While the ruling was expected — Griner didn’t expect “any miracles to happen,” her lawyers said at the time — the court decided that her pre-trial detention should be taken into account, with every day she served pre-trial equaling 1.5 days in prison, bringing Griner’s overall prison sentence down to about eight years. She’s currently spending her sentence in a penal colony outside of Moscow.

In an Oct. 26 statement, Griner’s agent, Lindsay Colas, decried the “disappointing, yet unsurprising” ruling. She noted that Griner’s sentence is “regarded as harsh and extreme by Russian legal standards” and that she is “being held hostage and is being used as a political pawn… simply because she is American.”

Jean-Pierre added Thursday that Griner’s release “continues to be a top priority” for the Biden administration.

“I can also tell you that in the subsequent weeks, despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with Russians through all available channels,” she added.

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