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WNBA Players Ask for Signatures to Petition for Brittney Griner's Release

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 28, 2022

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The WNBPA is asking for signatures on a change.org petition demanding the United States government do "whatever is necessary" to bring Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner home from Russia, where she has been detained since February.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports provided more information.

Chris Haynes @ChrisBHaynes

The <a href="https://twitter.com/TheWNBPA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheWNBPA</a> is urging all to sign the <a href="https://t.co/vPbO5fjz7D">https://t.co/vPbO5fjz7D</a> petition to help free WNBA star Brittney Griner, and is asking all athletes in professional sports to hold their own media blackouts to bring attention to the matter. <a href="https://t.co/rKg4CUoVLF">pic.twitter.com/rKg4CUoVLF</a>


Russian officials detained Griner after allegedly finding vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport.

The U.S. government has since stated that Griner is being "wrongfully detained."

Eric Tucker and Matthew Lee of the Associated Press noted May 3 that "the United States will more aggressively work to secure her release even as the legal case against her plays out" now that the "wrongfully detained" distinction has been made.

"Now, though, U.S. officials have shifted supervision of her case to a State Department section—the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs—that is focused on negotiating for the release of hostages and other Americans classified as being wrongfully detained in other countries. A consular officer did visit in March."

Cherelle Griner, who is married to Brittney, also urged President Joe Biden on Wednesday to use his power to bring the Mercury star home from Russia, where she was playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason. Griner has played for the club since 2014.

"There is one person that can go get her, and that's our president," Griner said on Good Morning America (h/t Mechelle Voepel of ESPN). "He has that power. You know, I'm just like, 'Why are we not using it? Like, urgently, use it.' We're expecting him to use his power to get it done."

Griner's charges carry a 10-year prison sentence as a maximum penalty, per Charles Maynes of NPR. Her detention was extended by a month in mid-May with a trial on drug possession charges scheduled for mid-June.

Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star who has won one NCAA championship (with Baylor in 2012), one WNBA title (Phoenix, 2014) and a pair of Olympic gold medals (2016, 2020) during her decorated career.

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