CNN’s Bash Suggests WNBA Star Targeted By Russians Because She’s A Black Lesbian
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune

CNN’s Dana Bash offered her own intersectional take on why Russia had arrested WNBA player Brittney Griner, charging that it was due in part to her being a member of minority groups.

Griner was found guilty on drug smuggling and possession charges on Thursday and sentenced to nine years in prison after she had been charged with having cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage in February.

The Biden administration is reportedly attempting to obtain a release for Griner and also U.S. citizen and former Marine Paul Whelan, who was arrested on espionage charges, by trading them for Russian weapons trafficker Viktor Bout, was convicted on terrorism in 2011 after attempting to sell missiles to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in order to shoot down U.S. military helicopters.

Bash stated, “It certainly is beneficial politically in the mind of Vladimir Putin to show the world that they have a — an American sports figure who has won two gold medals, who has — is a seven-time All-Star, plays for the Phoenix Mercury behind bars in Russia.”

CNN National Security Correspondent Kylie Atwood noted, “I do think it’s important to note that administration officials are saying that when it comes to a potential prisoner swap to get Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan and other Americans who’s wrongfully detained in the country, to get them release, that the ball is in Russia’s court now.”

Bash turned to CNN Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen, to make her intersectional point: “Fred, since you have been in touch with the defense for all these months, let’s just get real. How much of this is because she is a six-foot-nine, black, lesbian American?”

Pleitgen gave her support, saying, “Well, I think that the last part, especially being an American is obviously one of the big issues and certainly something that may have led to a tougher verdict here. Of course — we, of course, always have to say that, you know, especially someone who is lesbian or gay here in Russia has a really, really tough time.”

“Whether or not that makes a big difference in a court of law is something that’s up for debate, but it’s certainly something where if you look, for instance, at Russian media, that is something that is not looked very positively upon here, in a lot of public society, and certainly in Russian state-run media,” he added.

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