House passes resolution demanding Russia release Brittney Griner

Published: June 27, 2022 10:02 AM EDT
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 27, 2022. More than four months after she was arrested at a Moscow airport for cannabis possession, American basketball star Brittney Griner is to appear in court Monday for a preliminary hearing ahead of her trial. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The U.S. House on Friday approved a bipartisan resolution calling for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February.

The resolution, introduced by Arizona Rep. Greg Stanton, calls on Russia to “immediately release” the 31-year-old Griner, and asks U.S. officials to “raise the case” of Griner’s release when communicating with Russia.

The Phoenix Mercury, Griner’s WNBA team, applauded the resolution, tweeting Saturday that “Stanton and many others are continuing to work with the White House, State Department and Brittney’s family to secure her safe return home.”

Griner, who has won two gold medals with the U.S. Olympic team, was detained at a Russian airport on February 17 after officials alleged they found vape cartridges in her luggage that contained cannabis oil.

At the time of her arrest, she was flying to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a basketball club based in the city of Yekaterinburg. Griner has played for UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014 during the WNBA offseason.

If convicted on drug charges, she could face up to 10 years in prison.

In May, the State Department said it had determined that Griner was being wrongfully detained. Last week, Russia announced that it was extending Griner’s detention through at least July 2.

Last week, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, told The Associated Press that a scheduled call from the detained WNBA star on the couple’s fourth anniversary was never patched through by the U.S. embassy in Russia. Cherelle Griner said that her wife called nearly a dozen times on June 18, but never got through because the phone line at the embassy was not staffed.