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Russia says US hype isn’t helping WNBA player Griner

#Russia #hype #isnt #helping #WNBA #player #Griner

Moscow said Thursday that US “hype” surrounding women’s basketball star Brittney Griner, who is being held in Russia for drug smuggling, will not help her case after President Joe Biden opposed her jailing.

Griner – who has been held in Russia since February and faces up to a decade behind bars for smuggling cannabis vape cartridges into the country – is due to appear in court later on Thursday.

“The hype and work on the public, with all the love for this genre among modern politicians, only disrupts (the court process) at the moment,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to Russian news agencies.

“That not only distracts from the case, but also disturbs in the truest sense of the word. Silence is the order of the day here.”

His comments came a day after Biden spoke to Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, saying the star was “wrongly detained in unbearable circumstances” and vowing to make it a “priority” to bring her home.

The US leader also said he wrote to the WBNA star after she sent him a handwritten letter that was presented to the White House on July 4, the US Independence Day.

“I realize you are involved in so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American inmates,” Griner wrote.

“Please do whatever you can to bring us home.”

But Ryabkov said letters between the two would not help the star’s fate.

“It is not a correspondence of this kind that can help, but a serious perception of the signals they received from Moscow through specialized channels from the American side,” he said.

– Detained days before the Ukraine conflict –

The 31-year-old basketball star was arrested in the days before Russia sent troops to Ukraine, prompting the United States and its allies to impose unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow.

Her case has become one of many sticking points in US-Russia relations, with Washington tasking its special envoy with the hostage case.

She arrived in Russia in February to play club basketball during the US offseason – a common route for American stars looking for extra income.

She was arrested at a Moscow airport after being found with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

US authorities initially kept a low profile about the case, which only became public knowledge on March 5 but has since upped the ante.

Russian law is strict in such cases, and other foreigners have recently been sentenced to heavy penalties for drug-related offenses.

Last month a Moscow court sentenced former US diplomat Marc Fogel to 14 years in prison for “large-scale” cannabis smuggling.

Russia and the United States regularly bicker over the incarceration of each other’s citizens, sometimes exchanging them in scenes reminiscent of the Cold War.

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#Russia #hype #isnt #helping #WNBA #player #Griner

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