U.S. officials have expressed concern for WNBA star Brittany Greener because Russia has raised her

Concerns are mounting in the United States over Brittany Greener’s recovery as Russia extends WNBA star’s pre-trial detention. The escalation comes amid growing tensions between the United States and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian media reported on Thursday that a Khimki court in the Moscow region had extended Greener’s pre-trial detention until May 19. The two-time Olympic gold medalist faced drug charges last month for smuggling hashish oil into Russia.

Greener, a resident of Houston, faces up to ten years in prison, according to Russian media reports.

Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Tex., Whose district includes parts of Houston, called for the athlete’s release and told Nightline in an interview Thursday that she had written a letter to President Joe Biden and met with him about Greener’s case.

“I wrote a letter to the President of the United States and met with Mrs. Greener on this issue, again acknowledging the need for privacy and respect for our family members and the need for genuine support from across the country,” Jackson-Lee said.

“But I think the government is aware and ready to help Brittany. And we, as members of Congress, are urging the government to act as quickly, as deeply, as vigorously – without underestimating what is best for Brittany.

State Department spokeswoman Ned Price told ABC News Live on Thursday that U.S. officials were “in constant contact” with Greener’s legal team, but were “concerned” because US embassy officials in Moscow could not meet with the WNBA star. Detention “To assess the conditions … where he is being detained and to provide all kinds of assistance.”

“The Russians have not yet allowed us to do that,” Price said. “The Russians are obliged to allow such consular access under the Vienna Convention. We insist that they allow us access to Brittany Greener just as we have allowed access to all Americans detained in Russia. “

The extension of Greener’s detention comes at a turbulent time for US-Russia relations as Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped up his attacks on Ukraine.

Amid concerns that China could help Russia in the Ukraine attack, Biden made a video call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday.

The United States has imposed new sanctions on Russia, including personal sanctions on Putin and some of his close associates, but continues to oppose a no-fly zone in Ukraine and the deployment of US troops to fight Russia.

Biden called Putin a “war criminal” at a news conference at the White House on Wednesday, amid a State Department review of whether the United States considers Russia’s attack on Ukrainian civilians a war crime. On Thursday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said he personally believed in war. Crime has taken place in Ukraine.

Representative Jackson-Lee said the dispute between the US and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine would not affect Greener’s chances of release.

“You know, there are international protocols that should be in place despite the conflict,” the congresswoman said.

“It simply came to our notice then. This is a great act of violence. It is an aggression. Britney Greener had nothing to do with it, “he added.

Russia’s Federal Customs Service announced earlier this month that Greener had been detained in mid-February at an airport in the Moscow region of Russia for possessing vape cartridges in his luggage – a Russian illicit substance.

Although RFCS did not initially release Greener’s name, he was identified in a video released by Russian officials as he was escorted through security at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow.

Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Greener’s agent, told ABC News: “We are aware of the situation in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her team and the WNBA and NBA.” “Since this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case, but we can be sure that we are working to get her home. Her mental and physical health remains our primary concern.” “

Greener is a seven-time WNBA All-Star, who has been playing for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013 and was reportedly in Russia to play basketball in a foreign league.

Phoenix Mercury Says The team is in contact with Greener’s family, representatives and the WNBA and is closely monitoring his case, according to a March 5 statement.

“We love and support Brittany and our main concerns at this time are her safety, her physical and mental health and her safe return home,” said Phoenix Mercury.

The WNBA has expressed support for Greener, saying in a statement earlier this month that his league has “full support and our top priority is to return to the United States quickly and safely.”

ABC News’ Connor Finnegan, Libby Cathy, Candice Mascal, Matthew Fuhrmann, Miles Cohen and Tania Stuklova contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment