Putin spokesman denies Russia is holding Brittney Griner hostage

Vladimir Putin’s top spokesman has disputed the US State Department’s assertion that WNBA star Brittney Griner is being held “hostage”.

Dmitry Peskov told NBC News that Ms Griner was being prosecuted in accordance with Russian law after she was allegedly found with cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage, and gave no indication when the Olympic basketball star might be released.

“Why should we make an exemption for a foreign citizen?” Mr Peskov said in an interview with NBC News’ Keir Simmons.

“She violated Russian law, and now she’s being prosecuted. It’s not about being a hostage. There are lots of American citizens here. They’re enjoying their freedoms … but you have to obey the laws.”

In May, the US State Department designated Ms Griner as wrongfully detained and moved her case under the supervision of its Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.

Mr Peskov said he could not comment on why Ms Griner hadn’t instead been denied entry, or sent home, instead of being incarcerated.

On Monday, Ms Griner’s wife Cherelle said she has “zero confidence” in the US Government’s ability to secure her release after their first phone call – scheduled for their anniversary on Saturday – failed to go through because the American embassy in Moscow didn’t have any staff on at the weekend.

Cherelle Griner told the Associated Press that the couple had received Russian government approval to have their first telephone conversation since Brittney was imprisoned on 17 February.

When the call never came, Cherelle said she initially thought the Russian Government might have intervened.

She later learned that Brittney Griner had tried to call 11 times over a period of several hours, dialling a number she’d been given at the US embassy in Moscow, which the couple had been told would then patch the call through to Cherelle Griner in Phoenix.

But each time, the call went unanswered because the desk at the US embassy where the phone rang was apparently unstaffed on Saturday.

“I was distraught. I was hurt. I was done, fed up,” Cherelle Griner told The Associated Press, recounting how an anniversary she had eagerly anticipated was instead spent in tears.

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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