Britney GreennerThe American basketball star, who has been detained for months in Russia, will be an honorary starter for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) All-Star Game.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Wednesday that the starters were chosen by a combination of fan, media and player votes.
“In every season of Britney’s career, there’s an All-Star Game and she’s been selected as an All-Star,” Engelbert said.
“It is not difficult to imagine that if BG [Griner] Stay with us this season, she will be selected again and there is no doubt that she will show her incredible talent. Therefore, it is only fitting that she has been named an honorary starter today, and we will continue to work to bring her back to the United States safely. “
The development comes as Greener continues to be detained From February 17thwhen authorities at an airport outside Moscow said she had an e-cigarette pack with cannabis oil in her bag.
The State Department designated Greene in May wrongly detainedadvancing her case under the supervision of her presidential envoy for hostage affairs, who is effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.
On Wednesday, a coalition of human rights groups called on President Joe Biden to “make a deal” to secure Greener’s release.
Forty advocacy groups, including the National Organization for Women, the Human Rights Movement and GLAAD, said they appreciated the Biden administration’s efforts, which included labelling the 31-year-old woman “wrongly detained” and assigning diplomats to Her release work. But they say more needs to be done.
“The U.S. government has acknowledged that Britney essentially classifies her as a political pawn who was wrongly detained,” the groups said in a letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“While these are critical measures, we now urge you to reach an agreement that will allow Britney to return to the United States safely and immediately.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
One of the brightest stars in America’s top women’s professional basketball league, Griner is a WNBA champion, seven-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Griner has spent years playing for Russian pro teams in the WNBA offseason to help boost revenue. She is a seven-time Russian league champion.
On Monday, a Kremlin spokesman said Griner was guilty of drugs, not a hostage.
On Saturday, Greener tried to call her wife, Cheryl Greener, nearly a dozen times through the U.S. embassy in Russia, but they never got through because the embassy’s phone line went unanswered.
“This is a logistical issue, in part because our embassy in Moscow has experienced significant staffing constraints,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said, adding that the conference call had been rescheduled.
The Russian state-run news agency TASS reported last week that Grina’s Detention is extended At least until July 2nd. Another American, Paul Whelan, has been held in Russia since December 2018 on charges that he and the U.S. government believe are bogus espionage charges.
Meanwhile, Breanna Stewart and Aja Wilson received the most votes from fans and were selected as co-captains for the WNBA event. They will be joined by Sue Bird and Sylvia Falls, who both announced they will retire at the end of the season. Bird will set a record for her 13th All-Star Game. Foles, now injured, was selected for her eighth game.
Stewart and Foles will serve as co-captains, and Wilson and Bird will also be paired and will choose their teams.
League coaches will vote for the 12 reserves, and the co-captains will draft their rosters on July 2. The competition will take place in Chicago on July 10, with a 3-point contest and skill challenge the day before.