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GLAAD STATEMENT ON THE SENTENCING OF WNBA PLAYER BRITTNEY GRINER TO 9 YEARS IN RUSSIAN PRISON
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to the sentencing in Russia of beloved American basketball star Brittney Griner. On her 168th day in custody in Russia, the out LGBTQ athlete was sentenced to 9 years in prison after being accused of smuggling less than one gram of cannabis oil in her luggage while traveling to play for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg women’s basketball team. Many have viewed Griner’s arrest and imprisonment as a power move by Russian authorities seeking to use her as a political pawn.
STATEMENT FROM SARAH KATE ELLIS, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF GLAAD: “Brittney Griner is a hero. We admire her courage and loudly echo President Biden’s statement that she is being wrongfully detained. Our community remains gravely concerned for Brittney’s safety and demand urgent action from the State Department and other appropriate agencies to bring her home immediately.”
Ellis also responded on Twitter here.
STATEMENT FROM BRITTNEY GRINER IN COURTROOM:
“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here. I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom. I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”
STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN RELEASED THURSDAY:
“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”
In June, GLAAD and 40 other organizations sent a letter to the White House calling for the immediate negotiation of Griner’s release. The letter read, in part, “This month our nation honors America’s diverse journey towards freedom, equality and justice for all with the observation of the Juneteenth Federal holiday, the 50th anniversary of landmark Title IX legislation and LGBTQ+ Pride. Brittney’s intersectional identity embodies this celebration of America’s strength and diversity. As a celebrated world-class athlete, she also demonstrates the uniquely unifying power of sports. Brittney’s ongoing detention threatens the sanctity of sport and the safety of all athletes traveling to compete internationally.”
Brittney Griner spoke at the 2013 GLAAD Media Awards about her experience coming out in sports: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJZddnpzUB4. At the event, the superstar athlete said that after coming out, “It’s like a light came on me, on the inside, around me… I felt like I was Brittney Griner. I wasn’t hiding anymore.”
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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