PHOENIX MERCURY

US Sens. Kelly, Sinema of Arizona call for immediate release of Brittney Griner

Jul 21, 2022, 4:31 PM
WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner sits inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at the Kh...
WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner sits inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at the Khimki Court in the town of Khimki outside Moscow on July 15, 2022. - Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and WNBA champion, was detained at Moscow airport in February on charges of carrying in her luggage vape cartridges with cannabis oil, which could carry a 10-year prison sentence. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP) (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)

Arizona Democratic U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema released a joint statement on Thursday calling for the immediate release of Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner from her detainment in Russia.

The two senators introduced a bipartisan resolution that “calls on the Government of the Russian Federation to immediately release Griner and urges the United States to continuously press for Griner’s release in all interactions with the Government of the Russian Federation. The resolution goes on to acknowledge Griner’s renowned leadership in the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as her continued efforts to provide resources for those experiencing homelessness in the Phoenix area.

“Additionally, the resolution expresses continued support for United States citizen and former Marine Paul Whelan and all prisoners unjustly imprisoned in the Russian Federation.”

“I’ve worked with the State Department to make sure that Brittney Griner’s safe return is a top priority, and this bipartisan resolution shows the Senate’s support for her as well. Brittney Griner is an inspiration to Arizonans and Americans across the country,” Kelly said in the release. “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her and seeing her talent on the court up close. The Russian government unjustly detained Brittney and we will keep working with the administration to ensure her safe and swift return.”

“Arizonans have love and admiration for Brittney Griner both on and off the court,” Sinema said in the release. “The Department of State has determined that Brittney was wrongfully detained – it’s past time for her to come home.”

Griner has been jailed since she was arrested in mid-February at a Moscow airport after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage. The Phoenix Mercury standout and two-time Olympic gold medalist acknowledged in court this month that she had the canisters, but said she had no intent to break the law.

She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Her trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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US Sens. Kelly, Sinema of Arizona call for immediate release of Brittney Griner