WNBA star and Texas native Brittney Griner received the heartbreaking news that her appeal of a nine-year drug charge sentence was rejected by a Moscow court Tuesday morning. Griner who has been wrongfully detained following her arrest in February and later sentenced in August had hope these “illegitimate” proceedings would come to an end.
The National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan released a statement saying, “We are aware of the news out of Russia that Brittney Griner will continue to be wrongfully detained under intolerable circumstances after having to undergo another sham judicial proceeding today. President Biden has been very clear that Brittney should be released immediately.”
Sullivan continued saying, “In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to engage with Russia through every available channel and make every effort to bring home Brittney as well as to support and advocate for other Americans detained in Russia, including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan. The President has demonstrated that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and make tough decisions to bring Americans home, as his Administration has done successfully from countries around the world. The Administration remains in regular touch with representatives of the families, and we continue to admire their courage in the face of these unimaginable circumstances.”
Griner made her own statement during the Moscow hearing saying, “This has been very traumatic experience, waiting for this day, waiting for the first court, and getting nine years for a crime that I was barely over the significant amount. I don’t understand the first court’s decision to give one year less than the max when I’ve been here almost 8 months, and people with more severe crimes have gotten less than what I was given… I really hope that the court will adjust this sentence, because it’s been very, very stressful and very traumatic to my mental and psyche, being away from my family and not being able to communicate.”
The WNBA shared a statement saying, ““While their legal system is very different from ours, there is no doubt that the original sentence she received was extreme, even for the Russian legal system. This appeal is further verification that BG is not just wrongfully detained – she is very clearly a hostage. Let us not be divided in this moment. Rallying around BG and all wrongfully detained Americans is the common thread of humanity that unites us without regard to ideology or political party. We must unite and support the stated public commitment of the Biden Administration and Congressional leaders to do everything possible to get her home.”