U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke with his wife, Britney Greener, assuring her that the release of an American professional basketball player detained in Russia is a top priority for the Biden administration, a senior State Department spokesman said Tuesday.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Greener was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for allegedly holding cannabis-rich evaporator cartridges.
The Russian customs service said at the time that the alleged crime could result in 5 to 10 years in prison. This month, the U.S. State Department said the 31-year-old girl had been illegally detained and appointed diplomats to work on her release. Read the full story
The official said Blinken told Cheryl Grener on Saturday that the United States is working day and night on the case, which is fully focused.
A Russian court on Friday extended Grener’s pre-trial detention by one month, her lawyer told Reuters.
Washington and Moscow keep diplomatic channels open after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, despite the difficult state of bilateral relations.
Last month, they agreed to exchange prisoners, as a result of which U.S. Marine Corps veteran Trevor Reed was released from prison in Russia, where he was serving nine years on charges of assault.
He was exchanged for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who was serving a 20-year sentence in the United States after being convicted of drug trafficking.
Russia still holds Paul Whelan, another U.S. Marine veteran who was sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage in 2020.