The U.S. government believes that WNBA star Brittney Griner has been wrongfully detained by Russia, according to a report from ESPN. Griner was accused of having vape cartridges containing the marijuana concentrate hashish oil in her luggage back in February and has not been allowed to leave Russia since.
Russis claims that Griner is under investigation for alleged "large-scale transportation of drugs, an offense that can carry a sentence of up to 10 years behind bars in Russia."
There is no word on what led to the change in the case from the United State government.
"The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner. With this determination, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the interagency team for securing Brittney Griner's release," a State Department spokesperson told ESPN.
The shift to consider Griner wrongfully detained is a big step in the right directions towards bringing her home.
This means that the U.S. government will immediately begin to negotiate her return to America. Originally, the U.S. government would have had to wait until her next hearing in Russia on May 19 to start talking to the foreign government about her release.
To show support for one of the league's biggest stars, the WNBA announced Tuesday that a floor decal with Griner's number 42 will be placed on every court this season.
"As we begin the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community," WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. "We continue to work on bringing Brittney home and are appreciative of the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily challenging time."