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Russian state media releases photo of WNBA star Brittney Griner in custody after alleged vape arrest -
Russian state media releases photo of WNBA star Brittney Griner in custody after alleged vape arrest

Russian state media releases photo of WNBA star Brittney Griner in custody after alleged vape arrest

Russian state media releases photo of WNBA star Brittney Griner in custody as it’s revealed she was earning $1.5million per off-season playing for Moscow team that is backed by one of Putin’s oligarch friends

  • Griner was arrested at the airport in Moscow in late February after returning from a break to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg
  • She earns $1million per off-season playing for the team – four times her salary at the Phoenix Suns
  • Many other WNBA players go to Russia in the off-season to bolster their earnings
  • They have all returned now but Griner remains in an unknown Russian prison
  • Police claim she was carrying a cannabis-filled vape pen when she returned
  • Her family say they have few details; the White House and State Department are working to find out more and free her










Russian state media have released a photograph of WNBA star Brittney Griner in custody, the first since she was detained at the airport in Moscow last month on suspicion of carrying a cannabis-filled vape pen.

Griner was taken into custody at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport after returning to Russia from New York during a two-week break from play at the end of February. The exact date of her arrest is unclear and it remains unknown where she is now.

She had been playing for the Moscow team UMMC Ekaterinburg and was earning $1.5million for the off-season – four times her WNBA salary at the Phoenix Suns.

UMMC Ekaterinburg is backed by Andrei Kozitsyn, a mineral tycoon listed among Putin’s richest associates.

Griner earned six times her WNBA salary playing for the Russian team. She is not the only American female athlete who frequently traveled to Russia to bolster her earnings, but she is now the only one left in the country.

Her American teammates at UMMC Ekaterinburg include Allie Quigley, who returned to the US as tensions between the US and the Kremlin worsened last month.

Griner was taken into custody after returning to Moscow from New York during a two-week break from play. She was playing for the Moscow team UMMC Ekaterinburg and was earning $1million for the off-season – four times her WNBA salary

This is the moment Griner was apprehended by a police sniffer dog at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport in February

This is the moment Griner was apprehended by a police sniffer dog at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport in February

Griner was seen putting her belongings through a scanner at the travel hub

Griner was seen putting her belongings through a scanner at the travel hub

Moments later, airport staff were seen putting one of her belongings into an envelope, then sealing it up

Moments later, airport staff were seen putting one of her belongings into an envelope, then sealing it up

The details on Griner’s arrest are scarce but Russian authorities claim she was carrying with her a vape pen filled with cannabis oil.

Her wife and parents are calling out for answers given the ongoing diplomatic crisis between the US and Russia.

On Tuesday, Russian state TV broadcast a photograph of her in custody holding up a piece of paper. The image was too blurred to be able to make out what was written on the paper.

There are a dwindling number of flights out of Russia as a result of the crisis in Ukraine and the West putting heavy sanctions on Putin because of it.

The US has banned Russian planes from its airspace and European companies have done the same.

The maximum base salary for women in the WNBA $215,000 whereas the average salary in the men’s NBA is $7.90 million. WNBA athletes can earn more in compensation but not much.

In Russia and China, however, they can command much higher salaries.

The WNBA issued a statement to say it was offering assistance in getting Griner home but it is unclear what is being done.

The White House yesterday said that President Biden was aware of his case.

Griner’s family has also been offered help and advice from the family of Trevor Reed, a Marine who has been in custody in Russia since 2019.

He was accused of assaulting two police officers during a trip to Russia to visit his girlfriend. His parents say the charges are bogus.

Reed, 30, is serving a nine-year prison sentence. His parents Joey and Paula say his health is deteriorating and that he thinks he might have tuberculosis.

They begged President Biden to meet with them on Tuesday during his scheduled visit to Fort Worth, their hometown, but he declined.

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