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Brittney Griner is still in a Russian jail. It’s been 208 days.
Ahead of tipoff of the 2022 WNBA Finals on Sunday, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert called Griner’s wrongful and prolonged detainment in Russia“unacceptable,” sharing a recent letter from Griner as the league continues working with the Biden Administration to bring Griner back home.
Brittney Griner should be free. Then and Now.
Commissioner Engelbert elaborated, “it’s important to reiterate that we are always thinking of Brittney Griner and our commitment to bring her home safely and as quickly as possible. That has not wavered. We continue to work with the State Department and the U.S. government and administration and others on this very complex situation. I recently received a handwritten letter from BG and I am so inspired by her courage in the face of enormous adversity. We are fully focused on getting her home safely and she remains such an important part of the WNBA family.”
President Biden has said previously the US government “would continue to work tirelessly” to free Griner and that may be true beyond public view, however, what we can see is no tangible movement or momentum since earlier conversations surrounding a prisoner swap was rumored about in July.
Four-time NBA Champ Steph Curry, in a Rolling Stone October issue cover story, published on Monday, claimed the Biden administration rejected his offer to assist with efforts to gain Griner’s freedom.
When Brittney Griner was in pretrial detention, Curry said he reached out to his contacts in the Biden administration, and he said, “they were telling us, ‘Don’t say anything.”
This may be due to Russia’s insistence that negotiations be held privately. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated in late July that a possible prisoner swap with the United States involving Griner would only be potentially achieved behind closed doors.
Since the Russian Army invaded neighboring Ukraine exactly one week after Griner was detained, many have suspected that she is being used as a bargaining chip for Vladimir Putin, whose Ukrainian military will be supported by America in excess of an estimated $40 billion in collective security assistance, or $110 million a day over the last year, according to The Intercept.