NEW YORK (Reuters) – National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver said getting WNBA player Brittney Griner home was the “number one priority,” after a Russian court extended her pre-trial detention last week.
The 31-year-old twice Olympic champion was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in February, allegedly in possession of cannabis-infused vaporizer cartridges.
The U.S. State Department has said that the seven-times WNBA All-Star was wrongfully detained, amid dire diplomatic relations between Washington and Moscow following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Cathy Engelbert, the commissioner of the WNBA, is on this issue every single day, I’m working side by side with her,” Silver said in a televised interview on Tuesday. “We’ve been in touch with the White House, the State Department, hostage negotiators, at every level of government and also through the private sector as well.
“So our number one priority is her health and safety and making sure that she gets out of Russia.”
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had spoken to Griner’s wife and that Griner’s release is a top priority for U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration.
“There’s enormous role for the public to play through protests or letting their representatives know how strongly they feel about this,” said Silver.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Robert Birsel)