Vladimir Putin Spokesman Says Brittney Griner Isn’t A ‘Hostage’ But Gave No Details On Release

Brittney Griner WNBA
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Brittney Griner update. 

According to a Russian spokesperson, the WNBA star isn’t a “hostage.” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied claims that she is. 

During an exclusive interview with NBC earlier this week in Moscow, Peskov said Brittney was “no different” than other Russian citizens that were sentenced for carrying hashish.” He said, “Why should we make an exemption for a foreign citizen?”

He also said, “She violated Russian law, and now she’s being prosecuted. It’s not about being a hostage. There are lots of American citizens here. They’re enjoying their freedoms … but you have to obey the laws.”

The publication’s journalist, Keir Simmons, asked why Russia didn’t refuse Griner’s entry when she initially arrived or sent her back. Peskov replied and said he “couldn’t comment on Russian law enforcement’s decision.”

On February 17, WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney was detained at a Moscow airport after Russian authorities claimed they found vape cartridges while searching her luggage. The cartridges allegedly contained oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Brittney went to Russia to play in the country’s professional league during the WNBA’s offseason. Russia extended her detention three times, on March 17, May 13, and the latest, June 6. The latest extension means she’ll be behind bars until July 2, according to a Russian news agency. 

Brittney’s family, wife, WNBA circle, and NBA players, like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, pushed for her release. Carmelo said, “Let’s bring attention to this matter by sharing BG’s story and signing the petition: WeAreBG.org #WeareBG.” LeBron’s message was similar; he said, “We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!! Our voice as athletes is stronger together.”

Brittney’s partner, Cherelle, spoke out on Good Morning America. and believes Brittney is being used as a political pawn as the war against Russia and Ukraine continues. Cherelle said, 

“So if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it.”

Earlier this month, in Brittney’s hometown in Houston, Texas, ABC reports supporters gathered outside the Toyota Center, demanding her release. Mayor Sylvester Turner deemed 6/6 “Brittney Griner Day.”

Luckily, when Brittney is released, she’ll have something to look forward to. ESPN reports she’ll have a place at the WNBA All-Star game. She’d been named an All-Star seven times in her career.