State Department officials met Monday with members of Brittney Griner's WNBA team about the Phoenix Mercury star's monthslong detention in Russia and the Biden administration's efforts to secure her release.
The State Department confirmed the meeting, which involved officials from its specialized office that advocates for hostages and wrongfully detained Americans.
“There is a lot involved in getting her back home and safe, they’re working relentlessly," Mercury star Diana Taurasi said after the meeting in a release from the Mercury. "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 No. 1 on our list.
The administration has previously said that it's working to bring Griner and another American, Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, home from Russia.
Griner was detained Feb. 17 at an airport in Russia after authorities there said a search of her bag revealed vape cartridges containing a cannabis derivative. In May, the State Department reclassified Griner as wrongfully detained and transferred oversight of her case to the State Department Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, or 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," Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said. "She’s our teammate, she’s an American and we want her back home.”
Griner’s teammates as well as players across the league have been pushing President Biden on social media to help get her home.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.