Brittney Griner access demanded from Russia by US State Dept.

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The U.S. State Department on Friday demanded that it be granted access to detained WNBA player Brittney Griner, an American from Texas who is being detained in Russia. 

“We are closely engaged on this case and in frequent contact with Brittney Griner’s legal team,” a State Department statement said. “We insist the Russian government provide consular access to all U.S. citizen detainees in Russia, including those in pre-trial detention, as Brittney Griner is. We have repeatedly asked for consular access to these detainees and have consistently been denied access.”

Griner, 31, a Houston native who plays for the Phoenix Mercury after playing college basketball at Baylor, was being held on allegations of drug smuggling. She has received regular visits with her legal team but not a U.S. consul visit, a member of a Russian state-backed prison monitoring group told The Associated Press.

Team USA’s Brittney Griner shoots during a preliminary round women’s basketball game against Nigeria at the 2020 Summer Olympics, on July 27, 2021, in Saitama, Japan.  
(Associated Press)

“Her physical condition is fine, she’s holding up fine, and I’d even say that she is fairly calm and isn’t anxious,” monitoring group member Ekaterina Kalugina said. However, such groups rarely criticize the Russian government over prisoner treatment. 

Kalugina said Griner hadn’t complained about her treatment and receives an hour a day to exercise outside. 

Griner’s detention comes during a particularly fraught time in the U.S-Russia relationship as President Vladimir Putin presses forward with his invasion or Ukraine, forcing the U.S. to increase sanctions on the country. 

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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