We explain in six acts how the conviction of the American basketball star became a diplomatic issue for the United States

basketball player in cœUr of the Russian-American prisoner exchange. American Britney Greiner, 2.06 meters tall, was the star of the WNBA, North American women’s basketball league On Thursday, August 4, a Russian court handed down a nine-year prison sentence for drug possession and trafficking.

Arrested in February in Moscow for possession of cannabis, she today finds herself, despite herself, immersed in a geopolitical crisis between Washington and Moscow, in the midst of the conflict in Ukraine. Franceinfo summarizes the story of this athlete, which has become a diplomatic issue for the United States, in six acts.

1On February 17, Britney Greiner was arrested in Moscow

The 31-year-old athlete, considered one of the best basketball players in the world, was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport using cannabis vaping liquid, days before the Russian attack in Ukraine.

The hand baggage search brought by Britney Greiner, who arrived on a flight from New York, makes it possible Confirm the presence of leaves (and) a liquid with a specific smelldefines the Federal Customs Service of Russia in a press release.

La star des Phoenix Mercury (club de la ville de Phoenix, en Arizona) était venue en Russie pour jouer pendant l’intersaison américaine, une pratique courante pour les basketteuses de WNBA, qui gagnent souvent mieux leur vie à l’aux’é United State.

2On March 5, the basketball star’s arrest was revealed to the public

Fifteen days after Britney Greiner was arrested, it was revealed publicly. Meanwhile, Russian forces invaded Ukraine and news of his arrest was met with what appeared to be a deliberate silence. His Phoenix Mercury Club simply reacts, in a very short press release, to be so “looking at” player mode. His wife, Sheryl Greiner, asks “respect [leur] Private life” while she is ‘Work to bring [s]safe wife.

The same strategy is in Washington, where it is feared that the player will become a leverage in the Ukraine conflict. “For detained Americans, we generally don’t give details because that doesn’t move things forward to bring them home.”comments White House spokesman, Jen Psaki, to justify this silence.

3On July 19, Joe Biden adopted more sanctions to release American detainees

In front of the media coverage of the casePresident Joe Biden is paving the way for sanctions against governments that unjustly imprison Americans and order more detailed travel warnings.

A few days ago, NBA star LeBron James felt that the US authorities were not making enough efforts to bring Britney Greiner back to her homeland. “How would you feel about the support of the United States?”asked the player, four-time NBA champion and four-time best player in the league, on his YouTube show “The Shop: Uninterrupt.” “In his case, I would say, Do I even want to go back to America?”

Joe Biden then signs an executive order authorizing government agencies to impose financial sanctions or travel bans on foreign officials or non-state actors implicated in the unfair detentions of Americans.

4On August 4, Britney Greiner was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia

During her trial at the end of July, Britney Greiner alleged that she had inadvertently brought medicinal cannabis to Russia but that she had never intended to smuggle the drug. According to her, cannabis was prescribed to her by a doctor. “I had no idea, and did not plan to bring prohibited substances into Russia”then declares the double Olympic champion, from the cage designated for the accused, according to an AFP journalist on the spot.

American basketball player Britney Greiner before a court hearing as part of her trial in Khimki, near Moscow, Russia, July 27, 2022. & nbsp;  (Alexander Zemlianchenko / Paul / Agence France-Presse)

She explained that she used medicinal cannabis legally in the United States, by prescription and only on her days off, out of competition, to relieve multiple conditions. “the mother” Related to his intense basketball practice. “It’s because of all the injuries I’ve had during this long period of playing basketball. It extends from my back to my cartilage. I was in a wheelchair for four months, and I twisted my ankle.”she explained.

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office is seeking nine and a half prison sentences against him Women’s basketball star who asks the court it “Your life does not end”. Emphasizes: “I made an honest mistake and I hope the verdict doesn’t end my life here.”

At the end of the trial, the court in Khimki, near Moscow, finally found the star of the United States national team guilty of drug possession and trafficking To nine years of detention in a criminal colony“, According to the statements of Judge Anna Sotnikova, reported by Agence France-Presse.

5On August 4, the United States denounced “arbitrary detention.”

This strong condemnation sparks a wave of indignation, especially in the world of sports. After the judgment, theLawyers for the world basketball star immediately announced that she would appeal her conviction.

“This is unacceptable and I call on Russia to release her immediately so that she can be reunited with her wife, relatives and teammates.In a statement, US President Joe Biden urged (in English) after, after Judgment announcement.

White House spokeswoman Karen-Jean-Pierre also condemned “Unlawful Detention” For the double Olympic champion. Today’s ruling reminds us of what the world already knew: Russia unjustly detains Britney. She didn’t even have to appear in court.” she scars. On the GOP side, ultra-conservative Ted Cruz, a Texas senator, is also talking about arbitrary arrest.

On the athletic side, the North American Women’s Basketball Association (WNBA) regrets the conviction “Unjustifiable and unfortunate. The verdict was… expected and Britney is still unjustly detained.”regrets the example in a joint statement with the NBA.

6On August 5, Russia said it was “ready” to discuss a prisoner exchange

The day after the basketball player was convicted, Russia said on Friday that it was “Ready” to discuss a prisoner exchange with the United States. The US administration claimed for several days that it submitted to the Kremlin a proposal to obtain the release of the player, but the Russian diplomat reiterated that the exchange could be mentioned only after the fall of the sentence.

He added, “We are ready to discuss this issue, but only within the framework of the channel [diplomatique] agreed upon by Presidents Putin and Biden.This was confirmed, Friday, by the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, during a visit to Cambodia. On Friday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the United States would “Complete” To discuss with Russia about the prisoner exchange in which the basketball player participates.

Washington said at the end of July it had made an offer “The resulting” And the “Grand” To secure the return of Britney Grenier and Paul Whelan, an American who is serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia for “espionage”. According to US media, he said that The New York Times (in English), The exchange in question will be with basketball player Paul Whelan against Victor Bout, nicknamed “Merchant of Death”A Russian arms dealer is serving 25 years in prison in the United States.

Leave a Comment