By Travis Caldwell and Holly Yan, CNN

(CNN)Brittney Griner, the star basketball player detained in Russia over alleged drug charges, has become the latest of several Americans who have yet to secure their freedom from a country increasingly isolated from the rest of the world. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought forth global condemnation from governments and peoples alike, who have since boycotted Russian goods, frozen Russian access to banking systems and enacted crippling sanctions. And amid the growing economic repercussions, families and supporters of Griner and other detained Americans, like Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, are working to free their loved ones as diplomatic channels fade. 

Russian authorities said Griner, 31, had cannabis oil in her luggage while in a Moscow airport last month and accused her of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance — an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Reed, 30, and Whelan, 52, were arrested and convicted separately for alleged crimes they’ve emphatically denied well before the Russian incursion of Ukraine, and the pair remain in prison serving extended sentences denounced by US officials as unfair.

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Three Americans detained in Russia, from left to right: Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed

Griner’s whereabouts haven’t been shared by authorities Griner, a two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist, is a star player in both the US and Russia and has been a regular centerpiece in the successes of her teams, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and Russian club UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Many details of her detention in Moscow remain in question, including the exact date of the arrest and her current location.


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Those close to Griner have expressed their frustration over the detention and lack of clarity provided by Russian authorities. In an Instagram post, Griner’s wife, Cherelle, described the agony of waiting.

“There are no words to express this pain. I’m hurting, we’re hurting,” she said.

The Biden administration is working to get Griner out of Russia, members of the Congressional Black Caucus said after meeting Monday with President Joe Biden.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Griner’s hometown of Houston, said Tuesday she spoke of Griner during the meeting and noted there is a “need for her to be immediately released and for her to receive the help of the United States to demand and facilitate that release.”

But a US representative cautioned to CNN on Monday that getting her home is “going to be very difficult.” 

“Our diplomatic relationships with Russia are nonexistent at the moment,” Rep. John Garamendi, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said.

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