As Russia frees American Trevor Reed from prison, is Brittney Griner any closer to coming home?

·3 min read

When news broke Wednesday morning that Russia and the United States had participated in a prisoner swap, bringing former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed back home to America, many in the sports community had one question — what does this mean for Brittney Griner?

Griner, one of the top women’s basketball players in the world, has been detained in Russia since mid-February, when she was picked up in a Moscow-area airport after being accused of carrying cannabis oil in her luggage. Her next court date is set for May 19.

On Wednesday, a WNBA spokesman said, “we continue to have regular conversations with the U.S. government on Brittney Griner’s case and getting her home safe and as soon as possible remains the WNBA’s top priority.”

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia.
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told CNN Wednesday morning: “We are working very closely with her team. Her case is a top priority for us.

"I can tell you that with the utmost certainty. We’re in regular contact with her team, we regularly are engaging through our embassy in Moscow with their counterparts in order to see to it that she’s treated fairly, to see to it that we have the consistent access to her that the Russians are required under the Vienna convention to provide."

Two people who work in professional women's basketball told USA TODAY Sports Wednesday that while Reed’s release could be viewed as a positive development, it’s hard to say if it will have any impact on Griner’s situation, as she has yet to appear in court and be sentenced. The people requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Russia is known for its draconian drug laws, and experts told USA TODAY Sports in March it’s likely Griner would be sentenced to five to 10 years if found guilty for possession.

WHEN WILL GRINER GO FREE? It could be years and here's why.

Who is Trevor Reed?: The newly freed former Marine who had been jailed in Russia since 2019

Reed, who was arrested in 2019, was previously sentenced to nine years in prison after being accused of assaulting a police officer. Earlier this year, his family said he had become severely ill after being exposed to tuberculosis in the Russian prison system, and that he was receiving no medical care.

At the WNBA Draft on April 11, league commissioner Cathy Engelbert acknowledged the “unimaginable situation” Griner is in, and promised that the leagues and its players would not forget her throughout the WNBA’s 26th season, which is set to open May 6. Engelbert emphasized then that though she could not go into specifics, Griner was "safe." In late March, sources close to the situation confirmed that Griner was in regular contact with her legal team.

Many players have either kept completely quiet or been extremely calculated in their comments about Griner, worried that talking about her situation could further endanger her. Multiple high profile politicians have called for Griner’s release, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s agent, declined to comment, while the WNBA's player association did not respond to a request for comment.

Follow national correspondent Lindsay Schnell on Twitter @Lindsay_Schnell

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brittney Griner still detained in Russia as Trevor Reed gets released