After she spent her 32nd birthday behind bars, WNBA star Brittney Griner delivered a heartfelt message to all of the people who are supporting her through this difficult time.
In February 2020, the basketball player was stopped by Russian officials after they found traces of hash oil in her luggage. She was taken into custody by police and has remained overseas ever since. During her trial, she pled guilty to drug smuggling and said during the testimony “But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law.”
The United States government continues to devise a plan to bring Griner back to American soil, the first tangible step being an appeal process. According to her attorneys, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, the support she has received from all around the world is doing wonders to keep her spirits intact as she awaits an appeal hearing.
“Today is of course a difficult day for Brittney,” Blagovolina said on October 18th. “Not only this is her birthday in jail away from her family, teammates, and friends, but she is very stressed in anticipation of the appeal hearing.”
Sadly, Brittney’s appeal has since been denied and her 9-year prison sentence has been upheld.
“Brittney is a very strong person and has a champion’s character,” her lawyers said, in a statement shared with People. “She of course has her highs and lows as she is severely stressed being separated from her loved ones for over eight months.”
Now it’s being reported that Brittney will be transferred to a penal colony, which is a system of isolation, grueling labor, and psychological torment, NBC News reports. “Conditions in prisons and detention centers varied but were often harsh and life-threatening,” a 2021 State Department report on Russian human rights abuses said.
“Overcrowding, abuse by guards and inmates, limited access to health care, food shortages, and inadequate sanitation were common in prisons, penal colonies, and other detention facilities.”
Despite the circumstances, Griner’s legal representatives emphasized that she feels supported by fans, friends, and family overseas. “She feels the support. So this was good,” said Blagovolina.
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Brittney Griner addresses those who have supported her through Russian prison
More specifically, Blagovolina was relaying that Griner received hundreds of letters delivered to her in a Russian prison, which is something that has kept her spirits up. In fact, she was able to personally deliver a message to those who sent her positive messages.
“Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home. All the support and love are definitely helping me,” said Griner in a statement released by People.
Following this wave of support, it inspired the basketball player’s agent to release an update to the #WeareBG campaign that will allow the public to send messages to Griner via a new system on WeAreBG.org. According to her team, it has created an excellent support system for the WNBA player as the US government continues to devise a plan to bring her home.
“Over the past eight months, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, care, and concern for Brittney and her family. The compassion and unity we see in favor of doing what is necessary to rescue Americans reveal the best in us, as Americans and as global citizens,” Colas shared.
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