Jailed WNBA star Griner appeals to Biden: ‘Get me home’ | Basketball News

Basketball star Brittney Griner calls on US president to do all he can to safe her launch from Russian jail.

US basketball star Brittney Griner has appealed to President Joe Biden to do all he can to safe her launch from jail in Russia, saying in a letter that she is “terrified” she may stay imprisoned eternally.

Representatives for Griner, a Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) all-star and two-time Olympic gold medallist, launched excerpts of the letter on Monday, the identical day her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas mentioned it was delivered to the White Home.

“As I sit right here in a Russian jail, alone with my ideas and with out the safety of my spouse, household, pals, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I is perhaps right here eternally,” Griner mentioned within the hand-written observe.

“On the 4th of July, our household usually honors the service of those that fought for our freedom, together with my father who’s a Vietnam Struggle Veteran,” she added, referring to Independence Day in the US.

“It hurts serious about how I normally have fun at the present time as a result of freedom means one thing utterly completely different to me this yr.”

Griner was arrested on the airport within the Russian capital in mid-February on fees of carrying vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her baggage.

Her incarceration got here at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the US over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the Biden administration has mentioned she is being “wrongfully detained”.

Griner’s trial started in Moscow on July 1. Two witnesses had been questioned by the prosecution: an airport customs official, who spoke in open courtroom, and an unidentified witness in a closed session, in response to the state information company RIA-Novosti.

The trial was then adjourned, it mentioned, when two different witnesses didn’t present up, and the subsequent session was set for July 7.

US Cost d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood instructed reporters on the trial that Griner instructed her she was “holding the religion” and that she was doing “in addition to could be anticipated”.

The Biden administration has beforehand mentioned it’s working to convey Griner and one other American, Michigan company safety government Paul Whelan, house from Russia, and that their circumstances stay priorities.

In Monday’s letter, Griner urged Biden to make use of his powers to make sure her return.

“Please do all you’ll be able to to convey us house. I voted for the primary time in 2020 and I voted for you. I consider in you. I nonetheless have a lot good to do with my freedom that you would be able to assist restore,” she mentioned.

“I miss my spouse! I miss my household! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they’re struggling a lot proper now. I’m grateful for no matter you are able to do at this second to get me house.”

Griner’s imprisonment has drawn requires motion from high US athletes, together with her WNBA teammates, who met with US State Division officers in mid-June to push for her launch.

“We’re right here to do no matter we will to amplify and hold BG on the forefront, which is extra essential than any basketball sport and anything that’s happening in our lives,” Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi mentioned in an announcement launched by the crew at the moment.

The WNBA Gamers Affiliation additionally referred to as for motion on Monday, saying on Twitter: “It’s fairly robust having fun with a day meant to have fun independence when certainly one of our personal residents, Brittney Griner, is STILL wrongfully detained in Russia.”

Trial of WNBA star Brittney Griner begins in Russia | Russia-Ukraine war News

Washington considers Griner ‘wrongfully detained’ and has known as for her launch.

The trial of United States skilled basketball participant Brittney Griner, who was arrested in Russia in February after authorities discovered vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her baggage, has begun in Moscow.

Griner, a Girls’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) all star and two-time Olympic gold medallist, arrived at a courtroom on the outskirts of the Russian capital on Friday for the trial, during which she faces as much as 10 years in jail.

Arriving at Khimki Metropolis Court docket in handcuffs, the 31-year-old athlete wore a T-shirt exhibiting guitar icon Jimi Hendrix and was accompanied by three individuals. US embassy employees have been in attendance on the proceedings. Cameras weren’t permitted within the courtroom.

The US State Division has labelled Griner “wrongfully detained” and is negotiating for her launch amid tanked relations with Russia within the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. Griner’s arrest got here simply days earlier than Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into the neighbouring nation on February 24.

On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the case was politically motivated.

“I can solely function with identified info, and the info point out that the eminent athlete was detained with unlawful medicine that contained narcotic substances. There are articles in Russian laws that present for punishment for such crimes,” he advised reporters.

“Solely the courtroom can cross a verdict.”

Griner’s detention has prompted issues that Moscow might use the athlete to hunt the discharge of a high-profile Russian in US custody, with Senator Tim Kaine warning the ahead for the Phoenix Mercury may very well be used as a “negotiating chip”.

A few of Griner’s supporters have known as on the US to supply such a swap.

Excessive-profile figures throughout the sports activities world have additionally known as for Griner’s launch, with NBA gamers carrying T-shirts that say “We’re BG” at some video games.

WNBA gamers, who’re paid significantly lower than their male counterparts, are sometimes provided profitable contracts by the Russian Girls’s Basketball Premier League to play throughout the US low season.

Some have now left the Russian league, amid Griner’s detention and Russia’s army intervention in Ukraine.

US officers say Griner is considered one of two residents wrongfully detained by Russia. Paul Whelan, a former US marine, has been held in Russia since 2018 after being convicted of spying. He has denied the allegation.

WNBA names Brittney Griner as honorary All-Star starter | Russia-Ukraine war News

Russian state-run information company Tass reported that Griner’s detention was prolonged till at the very least July 2.

Brittney Griner, the US basketball star detained in Russia for months, may have a spot on the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation’s (WNBA) All-Star Recreation as an honorary starter.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert mentioned on Wednesday that starters had been chosen by a mix of fan, media and participant voting.

“Throughout every season of Brittney’s profession wherein there was an All-Star Recreation, she has been chosen as an All-Star,” Engelbert mentioned.

“It isn’t troublesome to think about that if BG [Griner] had been right here with us this season, she would as soon as once more be chosen and would, little question, exhibit her unimaginable abilities. So, it’s only becoming that she be named as an honorary starter right this moment and we proceed to work on her secure return to the US.”

The event comes amid Griner’s continued detention since February 17, when authorities at an airport exterior of Moscow mentioned she had vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her bag.

Brittney Griner
Griner’s spouse, Cherelle Griner, has spoken to the WNBA star within the 4 months since her arrest in Moscow [File: Rick Scuteri/AP]

The State Division in Could designated Griner as wrongfully detained, shifting her case below the supervision of its particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs, who’s successfully the federal government’s chief hostage negotiator.

Griner tried to name her spouse Cherelle Griner practically a dozen instances by means of the American embassy in Russia on their fourth anniversary on Saturday, however they by no means linked because the telephone line on the embassy was not staffed.

“It was a logistical problem that was compounded partially by the truth that our embassy in Moscow is below vital restrictions when it comes to its staffing,” State Division Spokesperson Ned Value mentioned, including the decision has been rescheduled.

Russian state-run information company Tass reported final week that Griner’s detention was prolonged till at the very least July 2. One other American, Paul Whelan, has been held in Russia since December 2018 on espionage fees he and the US authorities say are false.

Brittney Griner greeted by fans.
The US State Division in Could designated Griner as wrongfully detained [File: Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP]

In the meantime, Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson acquired probably the most votes from followers and had been chosen as co-captains for the WNBA occasion. They are going to be joined by Sue Fowl and Sylvia Fowles, who each have introduced they may retire on the finish of the season. Fowl will set a report along with her thirteenth All-Star look. Fowles, who’s injured proper now, was chosen for her eighth recreation.

Stewart and Fowles will probably be paired up as co-captains, as will Wilson and Fowl, and can select their groups.

The league’s coaches will vote for the 12 reserves and the co-captains will draft their rosters on July 2. The sport will happen on July 10 in Chicago with a 3-point competitors and abilities problem the day earlier than.

How can Brittney Griner be freed from Russian detention? | TV Shows

On Monday, June 6 at 19:30 GMT:
It has been greater than 100 days since US basketball star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia.

Authorities there allege that Griner flew into Moscow on February 17 with  vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage. She is accused of smuggling important quantities of a narcotic substance – an offence punishable by as much as 10 years in jail.

On Might 13 Griner attended a Russian court docket, the place her pretrial detention was prolonged by one other month. That ruling got here days after the US State Division mentioned Griner had been “wrongfully detained“.

Earlier than the State Division’s declaration, Griner’s household and the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) had not commented intimately about her detention, frightened that publicity might make her scenario worse amid ever-worsening rising political tensions between Russia and the US.

Now Griner’s spouse, WNBA gamers, and the gamers’ union have tweeted broadly about her detention and have demanded her fast launch. But there may be little different media protection of Griner’s case.

A latest prisoner swap noticed US citizen Trevor Reed launched from jail in alternate for a Russian pilot, and now some consultants say Russia might try to discount for the discharge of arms seller Viktor Bout – also called “the Service provider of Loss of life” – who’s serving a 25-year jail sentence within the US.

On this episode we’ll comply with up on Griner’s case, and ask: if a marketing campaign to launch her is underway, then why are US politicians and main athletes in different sports activities nonetheless silent?

On this episode of The Stream, we’re joined by:
Danielle Gilbert, @_danigilbert
Assistant Professor Division of Navy & Strategic Research, U.S. Air Pressure Academy