Brittney Griner has been wrongfully detained in Russia for over 90 days. It’s unbelievable, and we need her home. It’s surreal that the WNBA season has started. Yet it’s still unclear when Brittney may be back. We’ve been thinking about BG non-stop.
Update: After 302 days, Brittney Griner has been released from a Russian penal colony on Thursday December 8th.
So have many others including New York Liberty head coach and former Phoenix Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello, who said, “Obviously BG is part of my family. I coached her for a long time. I love that girl…I just hope that she can come home soon. Because I can’t imagine what she is and her family are going through. I think about her every single day, like a lot of other people in this league.” So today, we wanted to share a few ways to help.
We’ve also pulled together the latest news in timeline form below so you can stay updated on her case, some tweets from WNBA players about Brittney so you can easily retweet them, and some answers to the common questions about Brittney’s wrongful detainment.
“This is an unimaginable situation for BG to be in,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “She continues to have our full support. She’s just been such a great person in the league that I can’t be any more real about the situation she’s in. Certainly, we’re trying everything we can, every angle, working through with her legal representation, her agent, elected leaders, the administration, just everybody in our ecosystem to try to find ways to get her home safely and as quickly as we can.”
While you may be feeling helpless, there are actually a few ways you can make an impact. Here are a few ideas:
Here’s what a few hoopers have shared regarding Brittney. Just pop the tweet open and hit that retweet icon.
Phoenix Mercury‘s Brittney Griner is one of the most dominant players to ever take the court. Today, she’s a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, a WNBA champion, and she even won back-to-back WNBA Defensive Player of the Year awards. She’s also made six WNBA All-Star appearances, and has spent four seasons in the top ten for field goals, foul shots, and defensive rebounds. Her highlights show why she led the WNBA in blocks for seven straight seasons from 2013-2019. Here are the latest updates regarding Brittney Griner’s Russia detainment so far.
December 8, 2022: Now, after 302 days, Brittney Griner has been released from a Russian penal colony. The courts sentenced Brittney to nine years in prison, and she was recently relocated to a penal colony, where reports of her condition were grim. On Thursday December 8th, she was released as part of a prisoner exchange, in which the United States gave up the arms dealer, Viktor Bout. President Joe Biden confirmed the news in an early morning press conference at the White House.
May 25, 2022: Robin Roberts interviewed Brittney’s wife Cherelle Griner on Good Morning America. Cherelle said she first heard the news of Brittney’s detainment through Brittney who texted her. “She started texting me around 2AM that morning…’They have me in this room. I don’t know what’s going on.'” she said Brittney told her. Later in the day, during an interview with Angela Rye on ESPN, Cherelle shared, “There is one person that can go get her, and that’s our president. He has that power. You know, I’m just like, ‘Why are we not using it? Like, urgently, use it.’ We’re expecting him to use his power to get it done.”
May 20, 2022: A State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, said today that, for the second time in a week, a consular officer was able to gain access to Brittney reports ESPN. The consular official “found her continuing to do as well as could be expected under these exceedingly challenging circumstances.” Sources close to Brittney told ESPN they haven’t been concerned about her well-being because her lawyers have been able to see her at least once a week.
May 19, 2022: In an effort to free Brittney Griner, the Biden administration has offered to swap her for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout and send him back to Russia, Forbes learned. Negotiations are in the early stages, according to a non-government source in a position to know.
May 18, 2022: Rep. Greg Stanton introduced a congressional resolution imploring the Russian government to free WNBA Phoenix Mercury basketball star Brittney Griner reports AZ Central. Among other things, the resolution would urge the U.S. government to do everything it possibly can to secure the 31-year-old Brittney’s freedom and safe return home. It also urges the Russian Federation to allow U.S. diplomats access to Brittney while she is in detention and to ensure her “human rights” are upheld.
May 17, 2022: NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that he is working “side by side” with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert to try to bring Brittney Griner home, reports ESPN. “We’ve been in touch with the White House, the State Department, hostage negotiators, every level of government and also through the private sector as well,” Silver said. “Our No. 1 priority is her health and safety and making sure that she gets out of Russia.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with Brittney Griner’s wife, assuring her that securing the release of the American professional basketball player detained in Russia is a top priority for the Biden administration, a senior State Department official said Tuesday May 17 reports Yahoo! News.
The family, in a statement obtained by CNN from Brittney Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said they are “grateful for the time Secretary Blinken took on his recent call with Cherelle and look forward to her face-to-face meeting with the President.”
International law requires that Russia provide consular access to Brittney, and that access has now been denied three times. This proves Brittney is being used as a political bargaining chip shared Brittney’s agent.
May 13, 2022: The possibility of a Brittney Griner-ViktorBout trade was reported on May 13 by Tass, Russia’s state-owned news agency, and confirmed for Forbes by the source. “Currently, talks are underway on exchanging Bout for Griner,” Tass reported, citing “a source in the Public Monitoring Commission.” A second Moscow-based news outlet, Gazeta.Ru, had earlier reported a Griner-Bout exchange was in the works.
WNBA star Brittney Griner’s pretrial detention in Russia has been extended by one month (30 days), her lawyer said. “Diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow attended the hearing on May 13 and were able to speak with Ms. Griner,” a State Department official told the Washington Examiner. “She is doing as well as can be expected in these circumstances.”
May 10, 2022: The Phoenix Suns are honoring Brittney Griner on their court for the remainder of the playoffs.
May 3, 2022: The WNBA shared a press release announcing that every court in the league will display Brittney’s initials and jersey number (42) this upcoming season. Every WNBA market will support BG’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive, which is in partnership with the Phoenix Rescue Mission. And the Mercury’s request for roster and salary cap relief from the league was granted. Furthermore, Brittney will be paid her full WNBA salary.
“As we begin the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “We continue to work on bringing Brittney home and are appreciative of the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily challenging time.”
The State Department now considers WNBA star Brittney Griner to be ‘wrongfully detained’ in Russia reported the Washington Examiner. Given the new designation, her case is now being handled by the office of U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, who leads the government’s diplomatic efforts focusing on getting Americans wrongfully detained abroad released. Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who has worked privately for years as an international hostage negotiator, agreed to work on Brittney’s case reports ESPN.
March 23, 2022: A U.S. consular official visited Brittney Griner on March 23, the State Department told the Washington Examiner.
March 14, 2022: ESPN shared that those closest to Brittney don’t want to inflame the situation with the goal of keeping it from becoming a political cause.
March 7, 2022: Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, posted on Instagram. “We love you babe! People say “stay busy.” Yet, there’s not a task in this world that could keep any of us from worrying about you. My heart, our hearts, are all skipping beats everyday that goes by. I miss your voice. I miss your presence. You’re our person! There are no words to express this pain. I’m hurting, we’re hurting. We await the day to love on you as a family.”
March 5, 2022: News of Brittney’s detainment broke. “Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States,” the WNBA said in a statement.
USA Basketball also issued a statement: “USA Basketball is aware of and closely monitoring the legal situation facing Brittney Griner in Russia. Brittney has always handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball and her safety and wellbeing are our primary concerns.”
Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, posted on Instagram. “Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life. I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely.”
February 17, 2022: WNBA All-Star and two-time USA Olympic gold medalist basketball player Brittney Griner, on her way back to wrap up the season for her Russian Premier League team UMMC Ekaterinburg, was arrested in at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, allegedly in possession of cannabis-infused vaporizer cartridges reported Yahoo!. Customs police claimed they found vape cartridges with hash oil in her luggage. Russian authorities confirmed her detention the third week of March. Her trial was slated for May 1, 2022.
Here are the answers to common questions about Brittney being held in Russia.
Brittney Griner traveled to Russia in February to join her Russian Premier League team UMMC Ekaterinburg. She was detained at an airport after Russian authorities said a search of her bag revealed hashish oil vape cartridges. A security video viewed by the New York Times shows a basketball player that appears to be her. In the video, Brittney is going through security wearing a sweatshirt and face mask, and then it shows presumably a customs employee remove something from her bag.
A drug-sniffing dog indicated narcotics in her luggage, and when the bag was X-rayed, “so-called ‘vapes’” were discovered “with a specific odor,” according to Interfax, which cited the Russian Federal Customs Service, reports The New York Post. The Biden administration has determined that Brittney is being wrongfully detained in Russia.
Brittney Griner is being detained in Russia because she was detained at an airport in February 2022 after Russian authorities said a search of her bag revealed vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis. A statement released by the Customs Service says a criminal case has been opened into the “large-scale transportation of drugs.” In Russia, a conviction on those charges carries a sentence of 5-10 years in prison.
Brittney Griner has been detained longer than 90 days – since February 17, 2022. Bring Brittney home!