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Penny Taylor called for the release of her former Phoenix Mercury teammate, Brittney Griner, during her Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech Saturday.
“BG is our family,” she said, urging President Joe Biden’s administration to get Griner back to the United States. “She’s yours too. The entire global sport community needs to come together to insist that she be a priority.”
Griner, 31, has been detained in Russia for the past 114 days after Russian officials said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. She is facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
There are concerns that Griner won’t get a fair trial in Russia or won’t get a trial at all, period, and that she is being held as a political pawn by President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.
The United States government has classified Griner as being “wrongfully detained.”
In May, Russian state media reported that Putin was seeking to free arms trafficker Viktor “Merchant of Death” Bout in a prisoner exchange with the United States for Griner. Bout is currently serving a 25-year sentence in the United States after being convicted of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens, delivery of anti-aircraft missiles and providing aid to a terrorist organization.
A number of athletes have spoken up on behalf of Griner, including LeBron James:
LeBron James @KingJames
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. <a href=”https://twitter.com/uninterrupted?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@uninterrupted</a> 👑 <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeAreBG?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WeAreBG</a> <a href=”https://t.co/2GWV3Ff81p”>pic.twitter.com/2GWV3Ff81p</a>
Boston Celtics @celtics
<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/FreeBrittneyGriner?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#FreeBrittneyGriner</a> 👉 <a href=”https://t.co/NilQSP8giS”>https://t.co/NilQSP8giS</a> <a href=”https://t.co/6tw5S3dwAL”>pic.twitter.com/6tw5S3dwAL</a>