Here’s a thought: Why is Brittney Griner still in jail and what is the Biden administration doing about bringing her home?
Griner has been locked up in a Russian jail since February for allegedly possessing vape cartridges that contained hashish oil. It took until May for the State Department to classify her “wrongfully detained,” which meant the U.S. could expand its efforts to bring her home despite the law in Russia. So, it took more than three months just for our government to grant her the classification needed to really begin efforts to bring her back to the U.S.
And yet, nearly every time there’s an update on Griner’s situation, it’s a story about her detention being extended or her wife, Cherelle Griner, urging Joe Biden to take swifter action or the government claiming her release is a “top priority” but not saying much else about what’s being done. (Meanwhile, the administration has announced the prisoner exchange of Trevor Reed, a former Marine from Texas who allegedly assaulted a Russian officer arresting him in 2019. This, of course, only increased public outcry for Griner’s release.)
In fact, throughout all of this, Biden has claimed his administration has been working tirelessly to bring Griner back to the states, but where’s the evidence of this great effort?
According to the New York Times, last week, “dozens of organizations representing people of color, women and L.G.B.T.Q. voters called on President Biden” by sending him a letter urging him to finally strike a deal for the WNBA star’s release.
From the Times:
In a letter sent to Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the groups said Ms. Griner “continues to endure inhumane treatment, deprived of contact with her family.”
The letter said the United States “has acknowledged that Brittney is essentially a political pawn in classifying her as wrongfully detained.” And while the signatories cited “deep appreciation” for the administration’s efforts to free Ms. Griner, “we now urge you to make a deal to get Brittney back home to America immediately and safely.”
Cherelle praised the letter while also noting that she doesn’t believe any negotiations for her wife’s release have taken place at all.
“To my understanding, they have not started negotiating her release, and so this letter is very powerful because it’s much-needed support to highlight the fact that we are at the phase where you guys should be making a deal,” Cherelle said.
Meanwhile, Griner is finally scheduled for a trial date this Friday. She’s facing up to 10 years if convicted.