Brittney Griner: Russian Foreign Ministry Talks Back, Steph Curry and Megan Rapinoe Express Support

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized the U.S. State Department after it described WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner's jailing on drug charges as “wrongful detention.”

“That expression shows disrespect for Russian law,” expressed Zakharova. “The legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational use in parts of the U.S. has no bearing on what happens in Russia.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also manifested that "drugs are legalized in the United States, in a number of states, and this been done for a long time, and now the whole country will become drug-addicted, this does not mean that all other countries are following the same path."

“If a U.S. citizen was taken in connection with the fact that she was smuggling drugs, and she does not deny this, then this should be commensurate with our Russian, local laws, and not with those adopted in San Francisco, New York, and Washington,” Zakharova added.

Griner was arrested in Russia last February after customs officials found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The Phoenix Mercury standout said she had no intent to break the law.

However, Brittney Griner’s lawyer presented the Moscow court with a letter from an Arizona doctor recommending that the Olympic gold medalist use cannabis to treat pain and chronic injury. Maria Blagovolina, Griner's lawyer, expressed that "the attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis and that the permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health."

The defense also submitted tests Griner had undergone as part of an anti-doping check, which did not detect any prohibited substances in her system.

Griner’s Fellows Urging Freedom for Brittney at The ESPYS

Megan Rapinoe, a soccer player, asked her fellow athletes to speak out and encouraged them to support Brittney Griner at The ESPYS.

“For me, the most striking thing is that Brittney Griner is not here. BG deserves to be free, she’s being held as a political prisoner, obviously,” Rapinoe said. “Like what are we doing here dressed up like we are when our sister is detained abroad? We haven’t done enough, none of us. We can do more, we can support her more, and just let her know that we love her so much."

Related: US Soccer Superstar Megan Rapinoe Talks Cannabis, Feminism: 'Everyone Needs To Have A Seat At The Table'

Rapinoe also urged her fellow competitors to post Brittney's face and name on social media.

“Every time we say it in interviews, it puts pressure on everybody,” Rapinoe said. “It puts pressure on the administration, it puts pressure on Russia, it puts pressure on Putin, it puts pressure on everyone, and it lets BG know also above everything that we love her and that we miss her and that we’re thinking about her all the time.”

Moreover, Stephen Curry NBA Finals MVP hosted the show and joined WNBA players Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith in calling attention to Griner's situation.

“It's been 153 nights now that BG has been wrongfully detained thousands of miles away from home, away from her family, away from her friends, away from her team,” Diggins-Smith said. “All throughout that time, we've kept her in our thoughts and in our hearts even though we know that ain't nearly enough to bring her home.”

In addition, Curry noted the effort being made to free Griner. “As we hope for the best, we urge the entire global sports community to continue to stay energized on her behalf,” Curry said. “She's one of us, the team of athletes in this room tonight and all over the world. A team that has nothing to do with politics or global conflict."

“First, bring BG home. Gotta do that,” added tennis great Billie Jean King.

Griner's next hearing is scheduled for July 26. If Griner is declared convicted, she would face up to 10 years in prison.

Russian officials have said "no exchange could be discussed until the conclusion of the legal proceedings against Griner. It is not clear how long the trial will last, but a court has authorized Griner's detention until Dec. 20."
Photo: Lorie Shaull via Wikimedia Commons

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