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Brittney Griner was announced as an honorary WNBA All-Star on Wednesday as she remains in Russian custody after being arrested in February.
The WNBA revealed the players who will be participating in the All-Star Game. Sue Bird, Sylvia Fowles, A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu were among them. But Griner remained top of mind as the season nears its midway point.
“During each season of Brittney’s career in which there has been an All-Star Game, she has been selected as an All-Star,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “It is not difficult to imagine that if BG were here with us this season, she would once again be selected and would, no doubt, show off her incredible talents. So, it is only fitting that she be named as an honorary starter today and we continue to work on her safe return to the U.S.”
Griner was arrested in February for allegedly bringing vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis through a Moscow airport. Her detainment had been extended to July 2.
The U.S. State Department reclassified her status as being “wrongfully detained.”
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told NBC News in a recent interview Griner’s detention wasn’t about “being a hostage.” He said her arrest was no different from any other person.
“She violated Russian law, and now she’s being prosecuted. It’s not about being a hostage. There are lots of American citizens here. They’re enjoying their freedoms… but you have to obey the laws,” Peskov told the outlet.
Griner could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.