Griner: what’s happening?


M. v. Gruenigen, +41794054642

“Basketball” by mvongrue is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Earlier this year, WNBA star Britney Griner was declared guilty for drug charges in Russia and was sentenced to nine years and six months in a Russian prison. On December 8, she was freed.

Griner was detained on February 17, 2022, when going through airport security at Sheremetyevo International Airport, where she was planning to return to Russia to play in the WNBA offseason. After the Russian Federal Customs Service found vape cartridges with marijuana content in her carry-on, she was immediately taken into custody.

Many professional athletes today use marijuana regularly to assist them physically and mentally.

“It makes me upset to see Griner being charged so heavily for this,” senior Kennedy Garmong said. “It’s legalized in most states already, so it doesn’t make sense that she’d be severely punished.”

Her legal team worked to appeal the verdict on October 25, yet the sentence was upheld at first. After much public backlash, hard work from her legal team, and negotiation with the federal government, Griner was freed at the beginning of December.

“This has been a 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,” Griner said during her hearing in Moscow.

The Biden administration managed to work out a prisoner swap between Griner and Russian arms dealer Victor Bout.

Initially, the U.S. government was hesitant to speak out regarding the detainment of Britney Griner, as the brutal conflict with Ukraine tore through Russia. After several months, the U.S. The State Department finally declared that Griner had been wrongfully detained in May and that they should take action to right this wrong.

“This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time,” President Biden said. “We never stopped pushing for her release.”

The government’s choice to conduct a prisoner swap revoked a large political controversy, as Russia’s ‘Merchant of Death’ was freed too. But politics aside, Griner’s release is partially because of the constant protests held by fans on social media and athletes all around the world.

NBA players, such as Lebron James, spoke out about Griner’s imprisonment, tweeting, “We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!!”

“I think it’s important to protect U.S. citizens and all people from this kind of dehumanization,” Garmong stated.
Griner is back in the United States after ten months of trouble, and she was greeted by her supporters with open arms. People are spreading around “Welcome home BG” on social media, as her story continues to be told.