NBA commissioner Adam Silver is working “side by side” with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert in order to get Brittney Griner releases from Russian custody. According to ESPN’s Malika Andrews, Silver said the NBA is following the advice of legal experts and weren’t aggressive early in the process when Griner was first detained.
That changed when the State Department ruled that Griner, who was detained at the Moscow airport in February after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were allegedly found in her luggage, is being held “wrongfully.”
“We’ve been in touch with the White House, the State Department, hostage negotiators, every level of government and also through the private sector as well,” Silver said during a televised interview at Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery. “Our No. 1 priority is her health and safety and making sure that she gets out of Russia.”
Also on Tuesday, the State Department stated that it is still pursuing regular contact with Griner. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with Griner’s wife in recent days, ESPN reported.
While she has been in custody for three months, earlier in May a consular official met with Griner and it was determined that her pretrial detention would be extended by one month. Griner’s lawyer, Alexander Boikov, told the Associated Press that it is a short extension because it’s likely her case will finally go to trial in the near future.
Griner’s offense carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted.