US State Department now classifies WNBA player Brittney Griner as 'wrongfully detained' in Russia

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(CNN)The State Department has present classified WNBA subordinate Brittney Griner arsenic wrongfully detained successful Russia and her lawsuit is present being handled by the bureau of the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA) Roger Carstens, a State Department authoritative confirmed to CNN.

The SPEHA bureau leads and coordinates the government's diplomatic efforts aimed astatine securing the merchandise of Americans wrongfully detained abroad. They played a large relation successful securing the merchandise of US national and erstwhile Marine Trevor Reed from Russia past week.

 'It's the astir   audacious hostage taking by a authorities   imaginable,' says erstwhile  captive

"When it comes to our efforts to escaped Americans, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Ambassador Carstens, helium volition spell anywhere, helium volition speech to anyone if it means that we're capable to travel location with an American, to reunite that American with her oregon his family," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.

    Griner, a two-time Olympic golden medalist and subordinate for the WBNA's Phoenix Mercury, was arrested successful February astatine a Moscow airdrome and accused by Russian authorities of smuggling important amounts of a narcotic substance -- an discourtesy punishable by up to 10 years successful prison.

      She plays for Russian powerhouse UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason.

      Griner looks connected  during the USA's crippled  against Serbia astatine  past  year's Tokyo Olympics.

      On Tuesday, the WNBA said it volition grant Griner during the 2022 play with her initials (BG) and jersey fig (42) on the sidelines of each 12 location courts.

      "As we statesman the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney astatine the forefront of what we bash done the crippled of hoops and successful the community," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said successful a statement.

        "We proceed to enactment connected bringing Brittney location and are appreciative of the enactment the assemblage has shown BG and her household during this extraordinarily challenging time."

          Last season, Griner finished 2nd successful Most Valuable Player grant voting. She led the Mercury to the WNBA Finals, wherever Phoenix mislaid to the Chicago Sky successful 4 games.

          The WNBA play starts Friday and Phoenix begins its play astatine location against the Las Vegas Aces.

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