PHOENIX — Brittney Griner, the W.N.B.A. star who turned the middle of a geopolitical showdown between the United States and Russia final yr, is predicted to communicate with reporters on Thursday for the primary time since her launch in December in a prisoner trade.
Ms. Griner, 32, deliberate to communicate with reporters as her crew, the Phoenix Mercury, prepares for the beginning of its season on May 19, and because the United States and Russia conflict over the detainment of one other American, the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who’s accused of espionage.
Mercury officers mentioned that Ms. Griner wouldn’t talk about her time in Russia on the information convention. She has known as for the discharge of Mr. Gershkovich and others labeled as wrongful detainees by the U.S. authorities.
She was detained after customs officers at an airport close to Moscow discovered a small quantity of a marijuana focus in vape cartridges in her baggage in February 2022. In May, the U.S. State Department mentioned she had been wrongfully detained. She and Mr. Gershkovich have develop into the most recent in a line of American residents detained by Moscow below what U.S. officers have described as doubtful accusations.
A Russian courtroom convicted her of drug smuggling, and in August, Ms. Griner was sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony. She was freed as a part of a prisoner trade in December; Viktor Bout, an arms seller nicknamed the Merchant of Death, was despatched again to Russia. He had been convicted in 2011 on prices that included conspiring to kill American residents. Ms. Griner and Mr. Bout crossed paths on a tarmac within the United Arab Emirates, the location of the trade.
Mr. Gershkovich, 31, was detained by Russian safety companies in late March and charged with espionage in mid-April, an accusation that his employer and U.S. officers strongly deny. While Mr. Gershkovich has been ready to meet with Russian legal professionals, the State Department had repeatedly known as for the Russian authorities to grant consular entry.
He is being held at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, a facility the place inmates are held in isolation with uncommon visits from legal professionals. Russia’s international minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, this week suggested that there was the possibility of a prisoner swap together with Mr. Gershkovich, comparable to the commerce of Ms. Griner for Mr. Bout.
In a information convention on the United Nations, Mr. Lavrov mentioned that Mr. Gershkovich and one other American prisoner being held in Russia, Paul Whelan, had been caught “when they were committing a crime, receiving material” containing state secrets and techniques.
Ms. Griner mentioned this month that she deliberate to write a memoir about her detainment in Russia that she hoped would elevate consciousness about individuals who have been wrongfully detained. The e book, scheduled to be launched subsequent yr, would describe “the terrifying aspects of day-to-day life in a women’s penal colony,” in accordance to an announcement from Alfred A. Knopf, the writer.
She rapidly signaled after she returned to the United States that she deliberate to return to the W.N.B.A., and she or he signed a one-year contract with the Mercury to get again on the courtroom. She final performed within the league in 2021 and had produced probably the greatest campaigns of her profession, averaging 20.5 factors and 9.5 rebounds per sport and reaching the W.N.B.A. finals, the place her crew misplaced to the Chicago Sky.
Kris Rhim reported from Phoenix and Alan Yuhas reported from New York.