American basketball star Brittney Griner, who is considered by the U.S. government to be “wrongfully detained”, is suggested to not be described as a “hostage” in Russia, according to a Russian official that spoke with NBC News.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed these comments in an exclusive interview with Keir Simmons, published on Monday.
Griner, a member of the Phoenix Mercury WNBA team, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist has been held in Russia since February 17 on allegations of drug charges.
Russian authorities made reports that Griner was found in possession of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The U.S. State Department has considered Griner to be “wrongfully detained,” and the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs is currently involved in her case.
“The U.S. government is now approaching this as a hostage situation,” Simmons said in a published report on Monday.
Peskov responded to Simmons stating “I would strongly disagree with that. We cannot call her a hostage.”
Peskov continued that Griner “violated Russian law and now she’s being prosecuted. It’s not about being a hostage.”
Simmons urged Peskov on Griner’s detainment, saying she was “coming to take part in sport in Russia, effectively trying to build bridges through sport” and that her detention send “a terrible message.”
Peskov disputed Simmons’ statement saying “I think it is also a terrible message to bring some forbidden essences and materials for this country while trying to build some bridges.” “it is prosecuted by law, so we can do nothing about that.”
According to the Associated Press, news outlets citing Russia’s state-run media organization TASS, have reported that Griner’s detainment was extended by Russian authorities on June 14. The extension will keep her in Russian custody at least until July 2.
“It’s been 112 days since Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained in Russia. I urge and fully support the efforts of the U.S. Government and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to bring Brittney home quickly and safely. This is unacceptable,” NBA Star Magic johnson tweeted on June 9.