Brittney Griner. Basketball All-Star a Pawn in Putin’s vicious warmongering

Lee Heidhues 3.6.2022

Thug Putin will sink to any depth to achieve his brutal and violent goals. The detention of American basketball All-Star Brittney Griner is just one example of how this Thug operates.

Putin welcomes Americans when it suits his purposes. When a visitor can be used to achieve his goals the former KGB operative will take any action necessary.

Now that he is waging a war of aggression in Ukraine, Thug Putin will do anything he can to gain an advantage.

Excerpted from The New York Times 3.6.2022

As tensions rose between Russia and the United States, Russian authorities detained Brittney Griner, a W.N.B.A. star, on drug charges. The Russian Federal Customs Service announced Ms. Griner’s detention on Saturday but said she was stopped at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow last month.

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Brittney Griner going through Russian Customs

The detention of Ms. Griner, 31, a seven-time W.N.B.A. All-Star center for the Phoenix Mercury and a key figure in two champion Olympic teams, comes during an inflamed standoff between Russia and the United States over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pulls the player in the middle of the most acute crisis between the two countries since the Cold War.

Here is what we know so far about Ms. Griner’s detention.

The Russian Federal Customs Service said that a sniffer dog had prompted it to search the carry-on luggage of an American basketball player at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow, and that it had found vape cartridges containing hashish oil. A state-owned Russian news agency then identified the player as Ms. Griner.

Hashish oil is a marijuana concentrate that has a high concentration of the psychoactive chemical THC, and it is commonly sold in cartridges that are used in vape pens. The Russian Federal Customs Service said that customs officers had noticed vapes after scanning the traveler’s bag.

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The customs service said that a criminal case had been opened into the large-scale transportation of drugs, a charge that could carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

It released a video of a traveler who appeared to be Ms. Griner going through airport security with a trolley suitcase and a small backpack, followed by footage of someone examining a package that appeared to be from the traveler’s suitcase.

“Brittney has always handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball,” U.S.A. Basketball said on Twitter.

The screening at the airport occurred in February, according to the Customs Service, raising the possibility that Ms. Griner had been in custody for at least several days. She last posted on Instagram on Feb. 5. The timing provided leaves open the possibility that the case could have been underway in secret for weeks before Russian authorities chose to draw attention to it.

It is still unclear whether Russia might have targeted Ms. Griner as leverage against the United States, which has led a widespread effort to impose harsh sanctions on Russia and its elite.

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Citing privacy constraints, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken did not comment on the detention on Sunday at a news conference in Chisinau, Moldova, and did not respond to a question about whether Russia had announced her arrest as retaliation for the economic, military and diplomatic pressure the United States has leveled against Russia in recent days.

But American officials have repeatedly accused Russia of detaining U.S. citizens on doubtful pretexts.

“This follows a pattern of Russia wrongly detaining & imprisoning US citizens,” Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, wrote on Twitter on Saturday, citing the case of Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine whom a Russian court sentenced to nine years in prison in 2020 on charges of violence against police officers that his family and supporters described as fraudulent.

On Saturday, the State Department released an updated advisory urging American citizens to leave Russia immediately given the “potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials.”