Brittney Griner waited 6 months in Russian custody for trial and was sentenced to 9 years in prison.
Griner waited six months in trial for her sentence of nine years in a Russian Detention Center. Shortly after this announcement in August, President Biden made an official statement.
“Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” he says. “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”
Over the last few months, the Biden Administration offered many deals to the Russian government to release Griner into U.S. custody; however, they refused.
Controversies surround the WNBA Player’s release.
Nonetheless, the news of Griner’s release is controversial. There are many who say the Biden Administration should have acted on the athlete’s behalf much earlier to spare her the time in a Russian labor camp.
Numerous cannabis advocates have also spoken up about policy disparities in the U.S. asking why have citizens incarcerated here on cannabis-related charges not been freed as well.
Others have wondered if trading Bout for Griner was the right move, arguing that the WNBA star knew the risks of flying with cannabis when she was arrested and her actions are an example of irresponsible use. Those who have expressed this belief say that Bout’s freedom does much more harm to the world as a whole.
As of now, it is unclear why the Russian government finally took up the U.S. on their deal to swap Griner for Bout. For the moment, we can celebrate Griner’s release and then focus on the Americans that are still displaced in Russian custody.
Griner’s wife speaks out about her partner’s release on CNN News Broadcast.
“I’m just standing here overwhelmed with emotions,” Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner says. “The most important emotion I have right now is sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration.”
Vice President Harris and President Biden stood behind her in support.
“Today my family is whole,” she smiles. “But there are so many other families who are not whole.”
Cherelle mentions Paul Whelan and shares that she and Brittney will work with the Biden administration to get “every American home.”
Paul Whelen is still in Russian custody after nearly 4 years.
Russia detained Paul Whelan back in 2018. He was accused of spying and given a 16-year sentence. “They were pushing for both Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner’s release,” notes CNN National Security Correspondent Kylie Atwood.
While Whelan was not able to be a part of this swap the Griner family and Biden administration will not stop fighting for his, and others', release into U.S. custody.
Cannabis industry leaders on Brittney Griner's release
NFL legend Ricky Williams, a longtime cannabis advocate and founder of the cannabis brand Highsman, commented on this conclusion to Griner's ordeal: “I was so happy to hear about Brittney Griner’s release today. The greater the change we can create in the U.S. because of her imprisonment, the greater meaning it will give to her incarceration. It’s time to apply pressure on our government to start expediting domestic reform. There are still tens of thousands of people unjustly detained for cannabis in the U.S.”
Gia Moron, President of Women Grow, the largest national organization for women entrepreneurs in cannabis, stated, "Women Grow is extremely happy to hear that Brittney Griner is being returned home and is grateful to our government for working on her behalf. This is an extraordinary gift for her family, loved ones, community, and fans. In addition, her case has greatly amplified the plight of those imprisoned on cannabis-related charges and the need for cannabis legalization on a global scale. We also hope this continues the forward movement toward freeing all those incarcerated for cannabis worldwide."
Family, friends, and Fans of Brittney Griner are excited to finally have her back on American soil. Now Griner can heal with her loved ones and hopefully be back on the court soon.