U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham is concerned for Brittney Griner, telling TMZ that he “very much” worries about the WNBA star and other Americans currently in Russia.
“We need to put all the pressure we can to make sure this young lady comes home,” he said.
When asked if anything was being done regarding her case, Graham said that he knows that “the State Department is involved.”
The comments come after the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Sunday that the United States will “provide every possible assistance” to citizens who are being held in foreign countries. Blinken declined to comment further on Griner’s case out of privacy concerns.
“We have an embassy team that’s working on the cases of other Americans who are detained in Russia,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to see to it that their rights are upheld and respected.”
Griner was detained in February for reportedly traveling with hashish oil in her luggage. She was on her way back to Russia to play with UMMC Ekaterinburg.
According to a statement released by the Russian Federal Customs Service and obtained by the New York Times, a criminal case has been opened into the “large-scale transportation of drugs.” It carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years in Russia.
Other WNBA players, including reigning MVP Jonquel Jones, have evacuated Russia and Ukraine amid the escalating conflict between the two countries. FIBA has also banned Ekaterinburg and other Russian teams from competing in the EuroLeague playoffs.