The Stream

Is Brittney Griner being used as a hostage?

On Tuesday, April 5 at 19:30 GMT:
As the war in Ukraine strains relations between the US and Russia, there is growing concern over the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner and other Americans detained in Russia.

Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star with two Olympic gold medals, was arrested on February 17 after Russian authorities said they found vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. If convicted of drug charges, she could face up to 10 years in prison.

Experts familiar with cases of Americans wrongfully arrested in foreign countries say Griner’s case bears many of the characteristics of what is known as “hostage diplomacy”.

According to reporting by the Washington Post, US citizens are now more often taken hostage by foreign governments than by non-state actors or criminal groups. Experts who have dealt with cases of wrongful arrests say Griner’s release could be used as leverage in potential US negotiations with Russia.

Griner’s family and WNBA players have stayed relatively quiet over the matter to avoid potentially harming her chances of release. But as her detention drags on, some of her supporters are questioning this strategy.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss Griner’s detention and what can be done in cases of hostage diplomacy.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Dave Zirin, @EdgeofSports
Sports editor, The Nation

Jason Rezaian, @jrezaian
Global Opinions writer, Washington Post

Danielle Gilbert, @_danigilbert
Assistant Professor, US Air Force Academy