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WNBA Star Brittney Griner Will Spend Juneteenth in Russian Prison
Brittney Griner, the 2x Olympic Gold Medalist and WNBA star, was wrongfully arrested in February at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, allegedly in possession of cannabis-infused vaporizer cartridges. At the time of her arrest, the Russian Customs officials said that her alleged offense could potentially carry a 5-10 year prison term. The US Department assigned diplomats on her case to work for her official release after they declared her as wrongfully detained.
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Despite the weakened state of bilateral relations, Moscow and Washington have kept diplomatic communication open since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on the 24th of February 2022. A U.S Consulate officer was able to attend the latest court meeting regarding Griner's case and they were able to confirm her well being. "The officer was able to confirm that Brittney Griner is doing as well as can be expected under what can only be described as exceedingly difficult circumstances," State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said.
We are in the height of summer in the United States and it has been roughly 3 to 4 months since Britney Griner was held without rightful/just cause as the US Department stated in February.
It becomes a very disheartening situation to realize that we are about to come up on Juneteenth this weekend and this highly decorated African American Athlete is still dealing with this injustice and that now her release is being paired or in the same conversation with U.S Marine Veterans who were arrested for serious law violations such as Paul Whelan who was sentenced to 16 years in 2020 for espionage.
This was continually demonstrated last month when the U.S Department agreed to a prisoner swap which resulted with Trevor Reed (U.S Marine Veteran) being released from a Russian prison where he had been serving a nine year sentence on assault charges; and got exchanged for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who had been doing a 20 year bid in America for drug trafficking.
In a time where we speak about and some champion the protection of women and their rights especially in the United States, it is very sad to see the agency. or lack thereof, in the case of a black woman needing to be protected and served her clear path home.