Former UN ambassador ‘optimistic’ WNBA star Brittney Griner ‘will come home’

Bill Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that he is “optimistic” that detained WNBA star Brittney Griner “will come home” as calls for her release from Russia continue to grow. 

During an appearance on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” Richardson told host Bryant Gumbel that he is “optimistic” about Griner’s return back to U.S. soil, adding it will “happen soon”. 

Sources told sports media outlet ESPN earlier this month that Richardson agreed to work on Griner’s case. 

“Bottom line. You optimistic?” Gumbel asked Richardson on Tuesday’s episode of the program.

“I’m optimistic,” Richardson replied. “I am. Hopefully, it’ll happen soon, but it will happen. Brittney Griner will come home. It’s gonna happen.” 

Richardson also told Gumbel that he sees the similarities in Griner’s case with that of Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine who was released from Russian detainment last month, saying Moscow will ask for something in return for Griner due to her being a “very high profile” figure. 

“Well, yes. Both, the Russians held them, I believe, as bargaining chips. They want something in return. Usually another prisoner, a Russian, in the United States,” Richardson told Gumbel. 

“I’m convinced the Russians are gonna ask for something in return, because Brittney Griner is very high profile,” Richardson added. “There’s a lot of attention to her. She’s a world figure. And the Russians are gonna want something in return.” 

This comes as national advocacy group Black Feminist Future (BFF) announced on Monday plans to hold a demonstration outside of a WNBA game in an effort to call for Griner’s release. 

Griner, whose case was classified as a “top priority” by the State Department, has been detained in Russia for the last three months after being accused by Moscow authorities of illegally having vape cartridges containing hashish oil with her at an airport. 

The seven-time all-star and Olympic gold medalist’s current detainment in the country was extended for another 30 days earlier this month. 

Recently, Democratic House Reps. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Collin Allred (D-Texas), and Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.) introduced a resolution calling for the “immediate release” of Griner from Russian custody. 

“She is a victim of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s desperation to rule the world, and unfortunately, her freedom is made more difficult by inconsistent Russian responses to our embassy personnel and a bad legal system in Russia,” Jackson Lee said in a statement. 

Tags Bill Richardson Bill Richardson Bill Richardson Black Feminist Future Brittney Griner Brittney Griner Brittney Griner Brittney Griner detention Bryant Gumbel HBO Russia Russia-Ukraine conflict Trevor Reed U.S. Department of State WNBA WNBA

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