The Biden administration participated in a prisoner swap with Russia this week, freeing a Russian pilot jailed in Connecticut on drug charges in return for a Marine veteran imprisoned in Russia since 2019. Meanwhile, the fate of jailed basketball player Brittney Griner remains unclear. The Phoenix Mercury center is one of the biggest stars of the WNBA. Still, both the league and the Biden administration have said minor about her case since she was arrested at a Russian airport on February 17 on allegations of carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. “There are signs that this is politically motivated, but the White House and the State Department seem to be giving the WNBA this advice to remain silent,” says journalist Maya Goldberg-Safir. She wrote about the lack of public attention on Griner’s case in a recent article for Jacobin. “We know that to get Brittney Griner home; the White House will need to intervene.” Goldberg-Safir also notes that Griner, like many WNBA players, plays abroad during the off-season for extra income. Her arrest highlights the gender pay gap in professional sports that may have placed her at additional risk.
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