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“Unjustified” Griner verdict sparks renewed calls for US action

#Unjustified #Griner #verdict #sparks #renewed #calls #action

“Unjustified” Griner verdict sparks renewed calls for US action

Los Angeles (AFP) –

Rebecca BRYAN, Rebecca Bryan

The US basketball community on Thursday condemned women’s NBA star Brittney Griner’s drug conviction and nine-year prison sentence as “unfair” by a Russian court and called on the US government to bring her home.

“Today’s verdict and conviction are unjust and unfortunate, but not unexpected, and Brittney Griner remains unjustly incarcerated,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a joint statement.

“The commitment of the WNBA and the NBA to their safe return has not wavered, and we hope to be nearing the end of that process to finally bring BG home to the United States.”

Griner’s WNBA team, Phoenix Mercury, called her conviction a serious step in the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s “nightmare” confinement.

“While we know it was never the court case that would bring our friend home, today’s verdict is a sobering milestone in the 168-day nightmare our sister BG endured,” the Mercury said in a statement.

The club said it was “heartbroken” for Griner but remained “confident in the public servants who work every day to bring her back to her family and to us.”

While Griner plays for the Mercury like many WNBA players, she also competes in a foreign league.

Griner was returning to her Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, from the United States when she was arrested in February on charges of bringing cannabis vape cartridges into Russia.

“We continue to be heartbroken for them, as we have been every day for the past six months,” the Mercury said, while expressing a belief that US President Joe Biden’s administration “will do whatever it takes.” to end their unlawful detention.”

“We will not allow her to be forgotten,” said the club. “We are BG.”

After the verdict, Biden reiterated that the United States believed Griner’s detention was unlawful and vowed to “use all possible avenues” to bring her back.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week Washington had made a “significant proposal” to Moscow to free Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was jailed in Russia on espionage charges.

During a phone call between Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday, a prisoner exchange was also discussed.

Terri Carmichael, executive director of the WNBA players’ union WNBPA, urged Blinken to keep this process going.

“The unjust decision today is what it is, unjust. It’s a terrible blow,” Carmichael said in a statement.

“Whatever talks Minister Blinken and his Russian counterpart need to have, we trust them to conduct them with all deliberate speed,” she added. “Because it’s time. It’s just time.

“We count on this administration.”

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#Unjustified #Griner #verdict #sparks #renewed #calls #action

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