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Austin attorney reacts as Brittney Griner declared 'wrongfully detained' by Russia

Griner has been detained since February.

AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. government now considers WNBA star Brittney Griner to be “wrongfully detained” by the Russian government.

Since mid-February, the former Baylor basketball standout has been detained in Russia. Russian officials claimed that Griner's luggage at an airport held vape cartridges with oil derived from cannabis.

"If she is tried and charged, she could face significant prison time," said attorney Jack Wilhelm.

Wilhelm is an attorney in Austin with experience in international law. He said top U.S. government officials and the Biden administration have now said that Griner was wrongfully detained.

"It is good news the government is getting involved in getting aggressive. When I mean aggressive, I mean assertive. This is a positive step to get her released," he said.


He said a special presidential envoy has now been designated to Griner's case.

"It's certainly a step, another step in the negotiation. The designation of a special envoy does open some lines for communications," said Wilhelm.

The U.S. recently was successful in bringing marine veteran Trevor Reed home after he was detained in Russia for more nearly three years. Reed was accused of assaulting officers. He was able to come home after a prison exchange.

Wilhelm said it is unclear what will unfold with Griner. He said she could still have to go through the legal system in Russia and stand trial, or move through negotiations.

"In the world of international negotiations, and in the world of criminal law, there is a lot room for prosecutor discretion. Like, the U.S. prosecutors can decide not to prosecute, prosecutors can enter a lesser charge and prosecutors can have cases dismissed," said Wilhelm.

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