The story concerning the detention in Russia of Brittney Grinier, former star of women's basketball, becomes more complicated. Brittney was sentenced to 9 and a half years in prison for drug possession and trafficking, after less than a gram of hash oil contained in some electronic cigarette cartridges was found in her luggage in February at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.
The player was on her way to Yekaterinburg to start preparing for the Russian championship and Euroleague season. Griner had been arrested, news of her arrest only spread in March after the start of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
In August, she sentenced her to the maximum sentence provided for by the Russian penal code and transshipment to a penal colony. US diplomatic efforts so far have only served to make Russians consider an exchange between detainees, which could lead to the repatriation of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2020 for espionage.
For American diplomacy, both Griner and Whelan are being held unfairly, even after the sentence. On 25 October, an appeal hearing against the sentence of 9 and a half years, requested by Brittney Griner's lawyers, was set in Russia.
Cherelle Griner, wife of the WNBA star, said that Brittney is in her worst moment, and she fears being forgotten by her country and abandoned. She told: "Brittney told me on a phone call that she feels like her life doesn't matter.
Do you think I shouldn't go home? Am I no longer worth anything? I learned that Brittney Griner may soon be moved to a work camp, something my mind can't even comprehend. It was the most disturbing phone call I've ever experienced.
It was obvious how sick she was." Last month, Cherelle Griner and Whelan's sister Elizabeth were received at the White House by President Joe Biden, who had reassured them of his administration's diplomatic efforts.