As expected, a Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to a hefty prison sentence after pleading guilty to drug charges last month. On Thursday August 4th, Griner was given a nine year prison sentence along with a massive fine.
Though expected, this has led President Joe Biden to make an emphatic statement to get her back safely and soon to the United States.
The Sports & Celebrity World Supporting Brittney Griner’s Safe Return
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 6, 2022
Many people in the sports and entertainment world have Griner’s back and are urging for her safe return to the United States. Comedian and actress Amy Schumer went to her Instagram to exclaim, “Let’s go everybody. This is not okay. #freebrittneygriner now. All hands on deck. Make some noise.” Which was then shared by Kim Kardashian on her IG stories.
NBA star LeBron James added on Twitter, We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!! 🙏🏾 Our voice as athletes is stronger together. @uninterrupted 👑 #WeAreBG”
Actress Kerry Washington made her thoughts known on her own Twitter saying, “The world needs to be talking about #BrittneyGriner. Action NEEDS to be taken.”
All this is much needed and wanted, as it has got many eyeballs on the situation and has made the White House work overtime to get her back even before the sentence was put down. But now with the nine year sentence put forth, it is now making the White House and President Biden work in overdrive to get something done.
President Joe Biden Makes Statement On Brittney Griner’s Sentence
After the announcement of Griner’s sentence, the White House was quick to respond as President Joe Biden said in a statement, “Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” Biden continued, “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”
The 31-year old Griner, who is a WNBA star for the Phoenix Mercury made her own passionate statement back on June 4th to ask the White House for her safe return and release from a Russian prison as three excerpts were made public as the rest of the note that was sent was kept private, that included her raw and emotional thoughts on potentially being in Russia forever saying, “(As) I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever.” Her father, who was a Vietnam Vet was also a part of her thoughts as she shared, “On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran. It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
Finally as she reasoned with the President, she made one more plea to be helped out of the situation she currently find herself in saying, “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”
The note was not forgotten as the White House and President Joe Biden have continued to try to make a deal to get her back, even offering a deal that would trade convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for her safety.
Griner has been detained in Russia since mid-February after authorities said she had hashish oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport.
Brittney Griner Arrested For Bringing Cannabis Oil Into Russia
Griner, who was arrested Feb. 17 for bringing cannabis into Russia pleaded guilty on July 7th, 2022. Under Russian law, a ten year sentence is often mandatory but Judge Anna Sotnikova who mentioned that Griner intentionally broke the law would serve a slightly lesser sentence as her time in custody counted towards her sentence.
Griner was emotional after her sentence as she addressed the court by saying, “That’s why I pled guilty to my charges. I understand everything that’s being said against me, the charges that are against me, and that is why I pled guilty. But I had no intent to break any Russian laws.”
She continued, “I never meant to hurt anybody. I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population. I never meant to break any laws here. I made an honest mistake, and I hope that in your ruling, that it doesn’t end my life here.”
With the drug possession and drug smuggling charges brought forth on Griner, she was sentenced to 9 years in prison. She was also fined one million rubles, which turns out to be close $16,400 in US currency.
The fight for her freedom now continues.