/  03.05.2022

The news of WNBA champion Brittney Griner’s arrest in Russia has sparked outrage on social media.

The New York Times was first to report Griner’s arrest, citing the Russian news agency TASS. According to a statement released by The Russian Federal Customs Service, Griner, a two-time Olympic basketball champion, was taken into custody in February after a narcotics dog at Sheremetyevo International Airport sniffed contraband in her luggage.

Customs officers at the airport, near Moscow, found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in Griner’s bags, according to the report. The statement also mentions that Griner could face between 5-10 years in prison, if found guilty.

The Phoenix Mercury center also plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a women’s basketball team that competes in the Russian Premier League, during the WNBA offseason. It’s likely her visit to the country had something to do with her Russian basketball team.

On Twitter, comments regarding the incident caused the topic to trend — spawning the hashtags #BrittneyGriner and #FreeBrittneyGriner.

“#BrittneyGriner has been in Russian custody for almost THREE WEEKS and we’re JUST hearing about it?!” One Twitter user wrote. ”And don’t get me started on the fact that the only reason she’s over there is because America doesn’t give af about women athletes—let alone Black AND Queer women athletes.”

“#BrittneyGriner is being used by Russia as a bargaining chip. That’s why Russia has her,” another person tweeted. “They had her for 3 weeks. We’re just finding out today. They invaded Ukraine after having taken a US Citizen hostage. Remember that fact. Regardless of what propaganda they put out from here.”

Sherrilyn Ifull, the president of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund seems to be aware of Griner’s status. She reaffirmed another Twitter user’s statement which reads, “But how IS Brittney Griner? Is she safe? Is she scared? When will she be released? Why is this just coming out? What is her government doing to help?” Ifull commented “All of this.”

“There’s a very deliberate, nasty game being played on Black people’s lives everywhere and we see it being played out in Russia,” tweeted @LisaMiddleton2.

Another Twitter user wrote, “I implore everyone to use a critical lens for all the news surrounding #BrittneyGriner. She’s being held by an adversary, during a conflict and is an openly gay Black woman. A lot of these sources have their own agendas and spins. Focus on getting her home safely.”

A Twitter user named @ilyseh wrote, “It’s absolutely beyond words that Putin is using #BrittneyGriner as a pawn in his megalomaniacal war games. Praying for her safety and her family and honestly all of us.”

One Twitter user seemingly pointed out the Russian laws Griner allegedly broke. “Maybe familiarize yourself with the drug laws for a country that you’ll be taking your vape device and hash oil with on your travels…. Article 228, Article 229, Article 230, Article 231, Article 232, Article 233 and Article 234 of the Russian Criminal Code is 😬 #BrittneyGriner,” @VancouverGuero wrote.

“So it is wrong for #BrittneyGriner to have drugs with her, but it is acceptable to have olympians native to #Russia drugged up without any consequences?” A Tweeter pointed out. “One thing about Russia, they will never let one of their own fail. #RussianUkrainianWar #kamilavalieva #shacarririchardson.”

Check out more tweets on the matter below:

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