The final chance for Brittney Griner to obtain her release via the Russian court system has failed.
The WNBA star’s appeal of her nine-year sentence was denied by a panel of judges in Russia on Tuesday, all but ensuring that she will spend her term for drug smuggling in one of the notorious prison camps in that nation. Now, the only way for Griner to go home is via a prisoner trade between the United States and Russia.
Griner’s agent, Wasserman’s Lindsay Colas, begged with the government to utilize “all available resources to achieve the safe return of BG and all Americans – with haste,” as worries for her safety grew every day.
Colas said in a statement made available to Insider: “Today’s unfortunate, although predictable, appeal verdict further reinforces the reality that she is being kept captive and is being exploited as a political pawn. Simply because Brittney Griner is an American, Russia is holding her captive.
“We urge all individuals, fellow Americans, as well as the international sports world, to come together in support of BG and President Biden’s attempts to take the necessary steps to save her,” she said.
Agents at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport discovered vape cartridges containing less than a gram of cannabis oil in the eight-time WNBA All-baggage Star’s in February, leading to her first detention. Since then, she has been detained in a detention facility outside of the capital, but with the rejection of her appeal, she now faces the possibility of being transferred to a facility with worse living circumstances.
Many of Russia’s correctional camps are rife with abuse, illness, and neglect, and Griner is a target since she is an American citizen and a well-known person. Additionally, in recent weeks, family members of the two-time Olympic gold medallist, including her wife Cherelle, have started to raise worries about her deteriorating mental strength.
Colas pleaded with the administration to take action immediately for all of those reasons as well as other recent close calls of other Americans unlawfully incarcerated.
Time is an illusion, according to Colas, as shown by the fire that almost killed American prisoner Emad Shargi in the Evin prison in Iran last week and by Matthew Heath’s attempt to murder him in June when he was being imprisoned there. “We are out of time.”
“Something might happen at any time,” she said, “so we must stay focused and united in our appeal to swiftly restore BG to her family.”
In an attempt to make an agreement to send the basketball star back to the United States, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he and White House aides had been “in frequent touch with Russian authorities.” Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan would purportedly be exchanged for renowned Russian weapons dealer Viktor Bout, but according to American government sources, Moscow has not yet made a meaningful counteroffer.
Biden said on Tuesday that “we haven’t been meeting with much favorable feedback.” But we won’t give up.