“So happy to have Brittney back on U.S. soil. Welcome home BG!” tweeted Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.
“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” President Biden said from the White House, where he was accompanied by Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and administration officials.
U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted Thursday in Russia of drug possession and sentenced to nine years in prison. U.S. President Joe Biden denounced the verdict and sentence as “unacceptable.”
The WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist is to return to court on Tuesday, a month after the beginning of the trial in which she could face 10 years in prison if convicted. As the trial has progressed, the Biden Administration has faced rising calls for action to win her release.
A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart and the rest of the WNBA All-Stars wore Griner’s name and her No. 42 on the back of their jerseys for the second half of Team Wilson’s 134-112 victory over Team Stewart. It was another moment in the league’s continued push for Griner’s release from her detention in Russia.
The trial of the Phoenix Mercury star and two-time Olympic gold medalist began last week amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure her freedom nearly five months after her arrest.
WNBA star Brittney Griner has been in Russian custody since just before Russia invaded Ukraine. Her pre-trial detention was extended another 30 days last week — a sign some experts say could actually provide a glimmer of hope.
Brittney Griner, 31, faces drug smuggling charges that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained at a Moscow airport in February after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage.
WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained at a Moscow airport, reportedly in mid-February, after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges allegedly containing oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.