Brittney Griner thanks supporters as birthday passes in prison
WNBA star Brittney Griner thanked fans and supporters for the support she has received as the athlete celebrated her 32nd birthday on Tuesday while detained in Russia.
“Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home,” Griner said in a statement shared by her attorneys, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov. “All the support and love are definitely helping me.”
Blagovolina and Boykov noted in the statement that they spent a few hours with Griner on Tuesday, relaying numerous birthday messages the basketball star has received.
“Today is of course a difficult day for Brittney,” Blagovolina said in a statement, noting that Griner is anticipating her appeal hearing next week.
A Russian court earlier this month set Griner’s appeal hearing for Oct. 25 as she tries to appeal her nine-year prison sentence for possessing cannabis oil at a Moscow airport.
“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 on 25 October,” Blagovolina said.
Griner, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, has been held in Russia since February, being arrested days after Russia launched its war against neighboring Ukraine.
The Biden administration has made Griner’s case — along with that of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan — a top priority, saying both individuals are wrongfully detained in the country.
Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry used his team’s ring ceremony on Tuesday to wish Griner a happy birthday and advocate for her release from Russian custody.
“We want to continue to use our platform to and the opportunity to shout out a very special member of the basketball community,” Curry during his team’s season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers. “Brittney Griner’s birthday is today, she’s 32 years old.”
“We want to continue to let her name be known and we pray that it’s been 243 days that she’s been wrongfully incarcerated in Russia,” the two-time league MVP added. “We hope that she comes home soon and everybody is doing their part to get her home.”
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