It’s been months since the WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia after she allegedly had hash oil in her luggage. As her team and the US government continue to fight to bring her home, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken out about Brittney’s arrest and said she is not a hostage.
In an interview with NBC News, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, voiced his denial of the State Department’s claim that Brittney and was held hostage. That, he said, is no different from any of the “hundreds of Russian citizens who have been convicted for carrying hash.” Then he asked, “Why should we exempt a foreign citizen?”
“She broke Russian law, and now she is being prosecuted. It is not a hostage. There are a lot of American citizens here. They are enjoying their freedoms… but you have to obey the law.”
Peskov’s interview with NBC comes as the Russian government restricts “journalists and limits what reporters can say under threat of imprisonment.”
When asked why Brittney was not denied entry or sent home, Peskov said he could not speak about the decision of Russian law enforcement.
Despite being detained since February, it was not until last month that the US government officially declared Brittney “wrongfully detained. ” Last week it was announced that Brittney’s detention has been extended once again for 18 days, where she is now expected to be held in Russian custody until at least July 2.
Brittney’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has also spoken out about their anniversary call not taking place after her calls went unanswered. Brittney is said to have been given a phone number to call the US Embassy in Russia, where she could be connected to her wife through someone at her desk. However, that did not happen because the Embassy was “unstaffed” at the time.
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