After 250 days, USA basketball star Brittney Griner remains wrongfully detained in Russia on drug charges. Today, her appeal was rejected, and Griner is expected to be moved to a penal colony to serve her nine-year sentence.
"We are very disappointed," Griner's attorney Alexandr D. Boykov told The New York Times. The Times also reported two higher appellate courts, though her defense team has not yet decided if they will pursue those options.
"We generally think that we must use all the available legal tools, especially given the harsh and unprecedented nature of her verdict," they said in a statement.
Meanwhile, support back home continues for Griner and other United States citizens detained abroad. Two-time NCAA Championship coach Dawn Staley continues to use her platform to share Griner's plight far and wide, including an appearance on The Tamron Hall Show.
Players across the basketball community continue to say Brittney's name and call on the United States Government to do whatever it takes to bring U.S. citizens home.
National security adviser, Jake Sullivan, commented on the ruling, calling it "another sham judicial proceeding" and called for Griner's immediate release. The Biden Administration has become increasingly involved since the summer. Unfortunately, Russian officials have not entertained President Biden's offers for a prisoner swap.
Griner's wife, Cherelle, is growing increasingly concerned about Brittney. Reports say she's only spoken directly to her wife twice since her detainment. Most correspondence has been via letters. Cherelle told Gayle King on CBS Mornings, "On its face, it just seems like my wife is a hostage," Cherelle Griner said.
She called for Russian leader Vladimir Putin to be clear on his needs and show compassion for an athlete who has spent several years in Russia bringing pride to its basketball league.
Griner was found guilty of carrying .7 grams of hashish oil in her belongings. Although Griner has a prescription for marijuana use in her home state of Arizona, no amount of cannabis is legal in Russia. That said, Cherelle and others continue to identify examples of other U.S. citizens being asked to pay a fine instead of being imprisoned for eight months and counting.
Cherelle called her second call with Brittney disturbing. "You could hear it. You could hear that she was not okay," Cherelle Griner told CBS Mornings. "If you think about a person suffering and they have suffered to a max, like you could hear that like she was at the max that day."
While the next steps for her legal team are unknown, the basketball community continues to say BG's name. "The courage and integrity Brittney Griner has displayed throughout her wrongful detainment should motivate every American to join our campaign to bring her home to her family without any further delay," The Women's National Basketball Players Association said in a statement today.
"This appeal is further verification that BG is not just wrongfully detained – she is very clearly a hostage. Let us not be divided in this moment. Rallying around BG and all wrongfully detained Americans is the common thread of humanity that unites us without regard to ideology or political party. We must unite and support the stated public commitment of the Biden Administration and Congressional leaders to do everything possible to get her home."
The statement also called for leadership at FIBA, USA Basketball, and the global basketball community to lift their voices in support of Griner because "no athlete should be used as a political pawn."
If you would like to send messages of support to Briney Griner, you may visit WeAreBG.Org.