In Russian custody for months
US President Biden is Kerner’s last hope
06/02/2022 at 12:40 PM
The women’s professional basketball season in North America is relatively short, so many female players are also active in Europe. Like Sato Sabali – and Britney Greiner. The two-time Olympic champion is still in custody in Moscow, with no way out in sight.
As a professional basketball player in a Russian prison for more than 100 days – the status of US Olympic champion Brittney Greiner also affects German national player Sato Sabali. Germany’s top female basketball player said: “We have to make more calls, and we have to bring Britney Grenier home because it’s an amazing situation. She’s two meters tall and probably sitting in a small cell for something very controversial.” “I feel close to her because she’s a WNBA player and she was in Russia. I was in Turkey at the time.”
Grenier, two-time Olympic champion and star player for WNBA, Phoenix Mercury, was arrested February 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on drug possession charges, and has been in custody ever since. As reported by the Interfax news agency in early March, citing Russian customs, so-called vape cartridges and cannabis oil were discovered in the luggage of Americans during the examination. Griner faces five to ten years in prison.
Why did Grenier go to Russia?
The latest published case from Russia is a decision issued in mid-May, when pretrial detention was extended by a month. When there’s an open hearing just like the question of whether it’s just a matter of drug abuse or whether the Russian leadership is also not pursuing political intent — and wants to use the Griner, for example, as a bargaining chip for the exchange of Russian prisoners in the United States. In any case, the US State Department classifies Greener’s arrest as unlawful, but he is generally very frank when it comes to information about her case.
Like many other WNBA professionals, Griner played for months in Europe for extra income – just as Sabally was still active in Turkey until a few weeks ago and won the championship there with Istanbul. “She’s a professional WNBA player and she should make enough money to not have to go to Europe at all. But it’s something we have to do, and I always say it in quotes,” explained Sabali. “We want to develop further and not sit around for large parts of the year with good money on the table.” The WNBA season in the United States usually lasts roughly from May to September.
In particular, offers from Russian clubs cannot be rejected from a financial point of view, the 24-year-old Berliner reported. “You can’t say no to Russia,” Sabali said despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “It’s controversial right now, even with the war. But if everything is normal, I’ll go to Russia.”
Biden’s last hope
She earned about $80,000 in her third season with the Dallas Wings. “That would do the trick, but what is the lifestyle as a professional player? In addition, we only have 10 or 15 years, and that’s not something we can do for 40 years,” Sabali explained. “Then the question is, do you just take 80,000 or do you keep playing basketball and win something more. Many times, more times, at least in Russia.”
The NBA basketball players don’t have to contend with any of this — and Sabali believes none of them are still in Russian custody after such a long run. “It’s something that wouldn’t have happened if she had been a man and an NBA player in my opinion.” Like many WNBA and NBA professionals, the German international recently joined calls for more pressure on the US government.
“There’s only one person who can bring her back, and that’s our president,” Greiner’s wife Cheryl said in an interview with ESPN. “He has the strength.” Now you expect Biden to use this to release Britney Grenier. Cheryl Greiner said the last time she heard her wife’s voice was the day she was arrested. That was 15 weeks ago.