5 Mar 2022 21:40

U.S. Embassy in Moscow refrains from commenting on U.S. basketball player's detention due to privacy considerations

MOSCOW. March 5 (Interfax) - The United States Embassy in Moscow said that it takes seriously its responsibility to assist U.S. citizens abroad, but refrained from commenting on reports about the detention of a U.S. basketball player and Olympic champion.

"We take seriously our responsibility to assist U.S. citizens abroad. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment at this time," the embassy told Interfax, responding a request to comment on reports about the arrest of a U.S. Olympic champion for possessing vapes with cannabis oil.

The Russian Federal Customs Service said earlier that a U.S. citizen was detained with drugs at Sheremetyevo Airport in February; a criminal case was opened and the suspect was arrested.

"In February 2022, as a U.S. citizen was passing through the green channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York, a working dog from the Sheremetyevo Customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage," the Russian Federal Customs Service reported.

While the U.S. citizen's luggage was being screened with x-ray equipment, an officer from the Sheremetyevo Customs drug smuggling division noticed the presence of electronic vape cartridges in it, it said.

"The customs inspection of the hand luggage being carried by the U.S. citizen confirmed the presence of vapes with a specifically-smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance," it said.

A criminal case has been opened against the U.S. citizen in line with clause 'c', Part 2, Article 229.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (smuggling of narcotic substances on a substantial scale, carries imprisonment of five to ten years).

"Pretrial custody has been chosen as a restrictive measure for the American," it said.

An investigation is currently underway.

"The detainee is a professional basketball player, a member of the Women's National Basketball Association, and a two-time basketball Olympic champion with the U.S. national team," it said.

The FTS did not report the suspect's name.

Meanwhile, a number of media outlets identified the suspect as Brittney Griner, 31, playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2015. As a member of the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team, she won gold medals at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympic Games.