LeBron James calls for the release of Brittney Griner from a Russian prison. : NPR


Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury is defended by Azurá Stevens #30 of the Chicago Sky during the first half of Game Four of the WNBA Finals at Wintrust Arena on October 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

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Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury is defended by Azurá Stevens #30 of the Chicago Sky during the first half of Game Four of the WNBA Finals at Wintrust Arena on October 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Over 100 days, that’s how long WNBA player and Olympic Gold Medalist Brittney Griner has been detained by Russian authorities. Now, NBA star LeBron James is using his platform to share his public support for Griner, calling for the US government to bring the detained athlete “home swiftly and safely.”

James tweeted last night saying “We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!! Our voice as athletes is stronger together.” He then posted a letter that stated “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 global sport community , BG’s detention must be resolved out of respect for the sanctity of all sport and Americans traveling international.” It is imperative that the US Government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home.”

The letter included links to a Change.org petition calling for the safe return of Brittney Griner, it has nearly 300k signatures. The post also called for others to use the hashtag #WeAreBG and to tag the White House in posts asking for Griner’s return. Before last nights Game 2 of the NBA Finals, players from the Boston Celtics wore We Are BG shirts during warmups, in support of Griner.

In February, Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a star center with the Phoenix Mercury, was allegedly detained at Moscow’s airport for allegedly having vape cartridges filled with cannabis oil in her luggage. The drug charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Last month, a Russian court has extended the pre-trial by one month. Officials said US diplomats attended her hearing and were able to speak with Griner. “She is doing as well as can be expected in these circumstances,” the official added.

Griner was in Russia because she plays for MMC Yekaterinburg, a Russian women’s basketball team based in Yekaterinburg competing in the Russian Premier League. Due to low contract amounts in the WNBA, salaries offered by foreign leagues can draw players from the United States. The US government declared Griner was “wrongfully detained” — a move that moves responsibility for her case from consular affairs to a special envoy for hostage affairs.

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