An advocate who has worked on behalf of multiple American citizens detained by the Russian government is suspicious of the month-long detainment of WNBA star Brittney Griner.
Griner was taken into Russian custody in February after custom officials claimed to have found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in the athlete's luggage. Advocate Jonathan Franks says he was in disbelief after hearing the reports of Griner's arrest, but more so of how media have been reporting on the situation.
"This is being reported as if people are taking these allegations seriously," Franks told CNN. "I think that it's a huge mistake to report these allegations as if they're true or even likely to be true."
Franks is suspicious of Griner's detainment and is currently the campaign spokesperson for Trevor Reed who has been in Russian custody since August 2019. Given the limited information provided by Russian Federal Customs Service and the state media, Franks told CNN he's worried about the situation the athlete is currently in.
"This has a lot of hallmarks of a very wrongful and arbitrary detention," Franks said. "I found the video from the Russian customs service very odd. They're parading her before cameras. The mugshot was completely unnecessary and asinine."
Russia's customs service claims Griner was "smuggling significant amounts of narcotic substances" which Franks said is an attempt to make her "out to sound like a drug kingpin."
"I think that it is unlikely that Ms. Griner will get a fair trial," Franks said, "because nobody gets a fair trial in Russia. It's a rigged game."
The Congressional Black Caucus said last week that Griner's release is on the Biden administration's radar. Griner's wife posted to Instagram asking for prayers and privacy amid the situation which comes as Russian forces continue a deadly war in Ukraine.