On Wednesday, the United States and Russia engaged in a prisoner exchange. In exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted of drug smuggling charges in the U.S., Russia gave us Trevor Reed, a former Marine who was imprisoned in Moscow after being convicted in 2019 of assaulting a Russian police officer.
All of this, of course, leaves us with a single question; Why the hell is Brittney Griner still locked up in Russia?!
As you all know, the WNBA star is still in prison after being arrested in Russia for allegedly having illegal vape cartridges at the airport. In other words, white men are out here getting released after being convicted for drug smuggling and getting into drunken brawls with cops, but Griner is still in lockup over a little cannabis oil she’s accused of having in her possession.
Well, according to the Washington Post, the State Department is looking to assure concerned citizens that it has not forgotten about the Olympic gold medalist and seven-time all-star with the Phoenix Mercury, and that actually, Griner’s release is a “top priority.”
From the Post:
“We are working very closely with her team. Her case is a top priority for us,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told CNN Wednesday morning. “I can tell you that with the utmost certainty. We’re in regular contact with her team, we regularly are engaging through our embassy in Moscow with their counterparts in order to see to it that she’s treated fairly, to see to it that we have the consistent access to her that the Russians are required under the Vienna convention to provide.
“We will continue to pay very close attention to this case, to seek its resolution as we seek the release of Paul Whelan.”
Whelan, a former security executive, has been in custody in Russia since his arrest at a Moscow hotel in December 2018.
Wait—who is Paul Whelan?! I thought we were talking about Griner.
No Really, Who Is Paul Whelan?
OK, so Whelan has been locked up in Russia for more than three years after he was convicted of espionage charges that he’s vehemently denied. So, he’s another reason why officials can’t even discuss Griner’s situation without mentioning yet another white man who is likely a higher “top priority.”
I’m just saying—drug smuggling, assault on a police officer, espionage. Griner might have had vape cartridges with cannabis oil at the airport.
Brittney Griner’s Agent Lindsay Kagwa Cola Writes L.A. Times Piece
Meanwhile, Lindsay Kagawa Colas of the executive vice president for Talent and The Collective at Wasserman, where she represents Brittney Griner, has penned a piece for the Los Angeles Times where she made a damn good point about what put Griner in the position of being at the mercy of Russia’s justice system in the first place—women athletes are undervalued and underpaid in the U.S., so they go overseas for extra income.
To date, the largest contracts paid to women basketball players have come from Russian and Turkish clubs,” Colas noted. “Top athletes can make six to seven times the maximum WNBA salary overseas — and the disparity as recently as 2019 was 10 to 15 times more than WNBA salaries.”
As for Griner, Colas says she’s counting on the Biden administration—which oversaw the return of Reed—to have the same energy for Griner.
“I spend hours in communication every day with a dedicated group of people who are working to get BG home. It is a community filled with activists — including WNBA players who’ve led some of our most important cultural conversations in recent years,” Colas wrote. “It’s a community that chooses its words carefully, that’s used to moving together as a unit. For now, that community is doing its best to trust in BG’s legal team and have confidence in the White House’s commitment to doing everything in their power to bring Brittney home.”