The WNBA star has been in Russian custody since February 17
Controversial podcaster and UFC analyst Joe Rogan has waded into the row over jailed basketball player Brittney Griner and branded her a “political prisoner”.
Griner has been in Russian custody since February 17 after being found with a vape cartridge in her luggage that contained 0.702 grams’ worth of cannabis.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist was returning to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the WNBA off-season.
Pleading guilty to her charges last week, she is currently on trial with her next hearing adjourned until July 26.
Giving his two cents on the row, though, outspoken Rogan said that Griner’s plight was “horrible” and “for nothing”.
“It’s like she’s the clearest form of political prisoner,” he added on his Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
“I’m not a very political person, in that sense,” Rogan admitted.
“I’d like to see them resolve this. But I think it’s just one part of a bigger problem.”
Rogan’s comments come in contrast to those from the Kremlin, which has denied that Griner’s detention is politically motivated.
“The facts say that this eminent athlete was detained with illegal drugs that contained narcotic substances,” explained Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov as quoted by RIA at the turn of July.
“Russian legislation has such (laws) that provide for punishments for such crimes, but, again, this is just a statement.
“That’s what she was detained with and what is in our legislation,”
Peskov then added that Griner’s arrest “cannot be politically motivated, based on what I just said.”
There have also been suggestions that Russia has kept Griner in detention in order to negotiate a prisoner exchange that Russia is also uninterested in as things stand and will not even contemplate discussing until Griner has been sentenced.
Furthermore, the US has been warned that putting on pressure to try and grant Griner’s release is “futile”.
“We urge the US authorities not to exploit this sensitive matter affecting the fates of certain individuals, and we advise them to abandon futile attempts to pressure us,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova this week according to Interfax, when fielding a question on whether prisoner exchange talks had already gotten underway.
Zakharova also called on Washington to “work through established channels” and stressed that the process “simply won’t work any other way.”
“When real work is underway, it is not accompanied by this hype in the media, this is just such a classic information campaign. We regret that the United States is going this way, instead of a non-public professional dialogue,” Zakharova went on.
Zakharova’s warning came a week after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov blasted the US for creating “hype” around Americans convicted in Russia and noted that sending letters to American President Joe Biden, as Griner did on July 4, will not be of any help.
Instead, “a serious perception by the American side of the signals that they received from Russia, from Moscow, through specialized channels” is required and their use should only be considered after Griner’s case has ended, Ryabkov outlined.