In the latest development on Brittney Griner's Russian detainment, her fellow Phoenix Mercury teammates met with the State Department on Monday (June 13) to discuss the administration's efforts to bring her home.
According to NBC News, Monday's meeting included WNBA players and State Department officials from its specialized office that works to help hostages and wrongfully detained Americans. The gathering comes amid President Joe Biden's promises to release Griner, who has been held in detention for well over 100 days.
Post-meeting, Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi said, “There is a lot involved in getting her back home and safe, they’re working relentlessly." Taurasi added, “We’re here to do whatever we can to amplify and keep BG at the forefront, which is more important than any basketball game and anything else that’s going on in our lives. We want BG to come home as soon as possible, it’s number one on our list."
“Knowing the State Department at the highest level, from U.S President Joe Biden to the team that is working on bringing back all Americans who are wrongfully detained, gives us a lot of confidence that they’re working on it,” Taurasi continued.
On February 17, Griner was detained after authorities allegedly found vape cartridges with cannabis in her bag at a Russian airport. The State Department officially deemed Griner as "wrongfully detained" in May and handed her case to the State Department Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA).
Mercury coach Vanessa Nygard said after meeting with SPEHA, “We are on day 116 since BG has been wrongfully detained. It was great to hear from the State Department that we should continue to amplify that message and that we should continue to press all those who have any influence or power to help bring BG home."
Phoenix Mercury players and staff also met with Arizona Congressman Greg Stanton and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, which is Griner's hometown.
“For the team, coaches, and executives at the Mercury, every day without Brittney is a lifetime,” Stanton said. “I was glad for the opportunity to share the work we’re doing in Congress to secure Brittney’s release.”