PHOENIX — Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who grew to become the middle of a geopolitical showdown between the United States and Russia final 12 months, is predicted to talk with reporters on Thursday for the primary time since her launch in December in a prisoner change.
Ms. Griner, 32, deliberate to talk with reporters as her group, the Phoenix Mercury, prepares for the beginning of its season on May 19, and because the United States and Russia conflict over the detention of one other American, the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. , who’s accused of espionage.
Mercury officers stated that Ms. Griner wouldn’t focus on her time in Russia on the information convention. She has known as for the discharge of Mr. Gershkovich and others categorised as wrongful detainees by the US authorities.
She was detained after customs officers at an airport close to Moscow discovered a small quantity of marijuana focus in vape cartridges in her baggage in February 2022. In May, the US State Department stated she had been wrongfully detained. She and Mr. Gershkovich has turn into the most recent in a line of American residents detained by Moscow underneath what US officers have described as doubtful accusations.
A Russian court docket convicted her of drug smuggling, and in August, Ms. Griner was sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony. She was freed as a part of a prisoner change in December; Viktor Bout, an arms seller nicknamed the Merchant of Death, was despatched again to Russia. He had been convicted in 2011 on prices that included conspiring to kill American residents. Ms. Griner and Mr. Bout crossed paths on a tarmac within the United Arab Emirates, the location of the change.
Mr. Gershkovich, 31, was detained by Russian safety companies in late March and charged with espionage in mid-April, an accusation that his employer and US officers strongly deny. While Mr. Gershkovich has been capable of meet with Russian legal professionals, the State Department had repeatedly known as for the Russian authorities to grant consular entry.
He is being held at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, a facility the place inmates are held in isolation with uncommon visits from legal professionals. Russia’s international minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, this week steered that there was the potential of a prisoner swap together with Mr. Gershkovich, much like the commerce of Ms. Griner for Mr. Bout.
In a information convention on the United Nations, Mr. Lavrov stated that Mr. Gershkovich and one other American prisoner being held in Russia, Paul Whelan, had been caught “after they had been committing a criminal offense, receiving materials” containing state secrets and techniques.
Ms. Griner stated this month that she deliberate to write down a memoir about her detention in Russia that she hoped would elevate consciousness about individuals who have been wrongfully detained. The guide, scheduled to be launched subsequent 12 months, would describe “the terrifying facets of day-to-day life in a ladies’s penal colony,” in line with an announcement from Alfred A. Knopf, the writer.
She shortly signaled after she returned to the United States that she deliberate to return to the WNBA, and she or he signed a one-year contract with the Mercury to get again on the court docket. She final performed within the league in 2021 and had produced the most effective campaigns of her profession, averaging 20.5 factors and 9.5 rebounds per sport and reaching the WNBA finals, the place her group misplaced to the Chicago Sky.
Chris Rhim reported from Phoenix and Alan Yuhas reported from New York.