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US basketball star Griner to write book on Russian prison ordeal

Brittney Griner, the US basketball star who was detained in Russia last year, is writing a book about the 10-month ordeal which ended in a high-profile prisoner swap, her publisher announced Tuesday.

Alfred A. Knopf said the memoir, which does not yet have a title, will be released in the first half of 2024.

Griner “describes her stark and surreal time living in a foreign prison and the terrifying aspects of day-to-day life in a women’s penal colony,” the publisher said in a statement.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested at an airport outside Moscow in February 2022 over small traces of cannabis oil found in her luggage.

She was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of drug smuggling.

In a statement, she called her arrest “the beginning of an unfathomable period in my life which only now am I ready to share.”

Griner had flown to Russia to play basketball during the US off season.

“The primary reason I traveled back to Russia for work that day was because I wanted to make my wife, family and teammates proud,” she said.

Her release in December 2022 came about as part of a prisoner swap, with the United States releasing notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout.

He had been arrested in 2008 in Thailand as part of a US sting operation and convicted in the United States over arming rebels in some of the world’s bloodiest conflicts.

Griner’s case has received new attention after Russia last month detained another US citizen working in the country — Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

President Joe Biden, who approved the prisoner swap for Griner, said Tuesday that Gershkovich’s imprisonment was “totally illegal.”

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