By: Nina Cray
Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA, has stated on Tuesday that he is working “side by side” with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert to bring the Phoenix Mercury star home from Russia as soon as possible.
“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. “Our No. 1 priority is her health and safety and making sure that she gets out of Russia.”
Griner has been held since February in Russia, and the U.S. State Department said Tuesday that “sporadic contact” with Griner may fail to meet the requirements under the Vienna Contract.
The Vienna Contract in Article 36 states that a country who has arrested a foreign national must give said national consular access.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “But sporadic contact is not satisfactory. It also may not be consistent with the Vienna Contract to which Russia has subscribed.”
Griner, 31, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the U.S. and faces drug smuggling charges – if convicted there is a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The Biden administration among others believe Griner is being wrongfully detained.
U.S. officials continue to work towards her release, there has even been mention of a potential prisoner swap for Griner with arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Gaydos, Ryan. May 18th, 2022. Fox News. “Brittney Griner arrest: State Department suggests Russia may be violating Vienna Convention.” <https://www.foxnews.com/sports/brittney-griner-arrest-state-department-russia-vienna-convention>
ESPN. May 2022. “Commissioner Adam Silver says NBA is working with WNBA for Brittney Griner’s release from Russia.” <https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/33935229/commissioner-adam-silver-says-nba-working-wnba-brittney-griner-release-russia>