Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia on Feb 17, 2022. Russian Federal Customs Service claimed they found g vape cartridges containing hashish oil, a banned substance in Russia, in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow. Brittney was in Russia to play for an international team during the WNBA’s off-season, and her arrest dela came less than a week before Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Though her family and supporters of her first wanted to keep a low profile in hopes of a peaceful and quick resolution, that is no longer the case, and many have joined the new “Free Brittney” movement.
LeBron James, Lisa Rinna, and Amy Schumer were some of the first big-name celebrities calling on the United States to do something to free Brittney. Since her initial arrest of her, Brittney’s detainment has been extended multiple times, with a June hearing adding six more months to her stay in the country. In May, the US state department classified Brittney as being “wrongfully detained,” meaning it would work more aggressively in securing her release. The Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, essential the US’s chief hostage negotiator, is on the case.
Griner has been charged with large-scale transportation of drugs (again, she had vape cartridges in her luggage) and faces ten years in prison if convicted. This dire fate is why the following stars have voiced their support for her release.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 6, 2022
LeBron James tweeted his support for Brittney on June 5 on behalf of his company, Uninterrupted. “For over 100 days, BG has faced inhumane conditions in a Russian prison and has been denied communications with her family and loved ones. As a decorated Olympian and member of an elite global sports community, BG’s detention must be resolved out of respect for the sanctity of all sport and for all Americans traveling internationally,” he wrote.
“It is imperative that the US Government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home,” he added. “Join us in demanding that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris bring Brittney home swiftly and safely by taking action today,” he continued, sharing a Change.org petition to “Secure Brittney Griner’s Swift and Safe Return to the U. S.”
Amy Schumer shared a screenshot of the photos of Brittney that were published in June. The pictures showed a wide-eyed Brittney being escorted by Russian police. “Let’s go, everybody. This is not ok. #freebrittneygriner now. All hands on deck. Make some noise,” wrote Amy.
On Amy Schumer’s June 30 IG post in support of #FreeBrittneyGriner, Real Housewives star Lisa Rinna added her voice to the many supporting the WBNA star’s rescue. “Yes!!!!!” wrote Lisa. “We need to get her out of there, stat!!!!!!”
Brittney’s Wife, Cherelle Griner, broke her silence in May during an interview. “There is one person that can go get her, and that’s our President [Joe Biden],” she said in a tearful chat. “He has that power. 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.” In a second interview with Good Morning America, Cherelle echoed her feelings. “I just keep hearing that, you know, he has the power. She’s a political pawn. So if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it,” she said.