Credit: Joe Camporeale — USA TODAY Sports
As the NBA prepares to kick off its 77th season, former WNBA superstar Brittney Griner continues her battle against the Russian courts. After being detained in February of this year, Griner plead guilty to drug charges, hoping her confession would help start the process of going home.
Instead, Griner remains stuck in prison, in a cell for 23 hours a day as her family watches and waits from thousands of miles away.
Now, to make matters worse, Russian President Vladimir Putin says negotiating Griner's release is not on his list of priorities.
(via The Guardian)
The difficulties involved in freeing Brittney Griner from her imprisonment in Russia were brought into stark relief this weekend when a senior aide to Vladimir Putin said the issue is not a priority for the Russian president.
In August, the basketball star was given a nine-year prison sentence for bringing a small amount of cannabis oil into Russia. The 31-year-old said she uses the drug to treat pain and has lodged an appeal against her sentence.
However on Sunday, Yury Ushakov, an aide to Putin, said Biden was most concerned about good publicity as the US midterm elections approach.
“In this tense situation, I think that he is thinking first and foremost about the upcoming midterm elections so he keeps emphasizing the need to bring back home the basketball player who was detained for drug smuggling. However, it’s not the main issue that we are concerned about,” Ushakov said in an interview with Rossiya-1.
“Look, I have no intention of meeting with him,” said President Joe Biden. “But, for example, if he came to me at the G20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I would meet with him.”
Earlier this month Griner’s wife, Cherelle, said the double Olympic champion is afraid of being forgotten by the US. She told CBS Mornings that her wife, who was playing in Russia during the WNBA offseason, also fears being moved to a labor camp.
The situation has become very dire for Griner, who is starting to lose hope that she will ever be freed from this nightmare.
The only way to get her out is through diplomacy, but the ongoing war in Ukraine has made negotiations difficult between the U.S. and Russia. Needless to say, this is a tough situation for Griner and it's possible she may just serve out her full sentence.
In the meantime, the NBA family is doing everything they can do to make things right.