A US diplomat finally met WNBA star Brittney Griner this week, who has been jailed in Russia for three months.
A consular officer visited Griner Thursday, and it was the second visit this week, State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a briefing on Friday, ESPN reports. Price said that the official "found that it continued to function as well as could be expected in these extremely challenging circumstances," Price said. Price said Tuesday that Russian authorities had turned down three requests from U.S. diplomats to meet with Griner and that the refusal was "unacceptable." A consular officer spoke to Griner last week "on the sidelines of his court case," Price said at the time, adding that "sporadic contact is not satisfactory." A representative of the U.S. Embassy had also seen her in March.
Griner, the center of the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow in February after a search of her luggage revealed she had vape cartridges containing hash oil. Possession of hash oil is illegal in Russia, and she could face up to 10 years in a Russian prison if convicted of possession.He has not gone to court and will remain in custody until mid-June.
She was in Russia to play for one of that nation's basketball teams, UMMC Ekaterinburg. Many WNBA players compete on foreign teams during the US offseason. President Joe Biden's administration has spoken out against Russia's actions in the Griner case, saying she was "wrongly imprisoned." The US government will continue to fight for access, Price said at Friday's briefing.