The family of Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star Brittney Griner has asked president Joe Biden to do “whatever necessary” to get her released from detainment in Russia.
The two-time Olympic medalist was detained in Russia in February on allegations that she was bringing marijuana through a Moscow-area airport. The Phoenix Mercury player competed in European leagues during the WNBA offseason, with that being the reason for her travel to Russia.
“My sister has been wrongfully detained in Russia for over 100 days now,” the player’s sister Shekera Griner said in an emotional video.
“To many of you, Brittney is affectionately known as BG, the WNBA star, the gold-medalist. To us, she is a daughter, she is a sister, she is an aunt, she is a cousin, she’s a niece, she is a wife,” she added.
In May, the 31-year-old athlete’s detention was extended another month until the middle of June. She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail if convicted on drug smuggling charges.
“For 100 days I have not seen my Brit. It’s been totally gut-wrenching for myself and my family — her mom and dad, my siblings, myself,” the sister said.
“I don’t wish this for anyone.”
Ms Griner asked president Joe Biden and the entire administration to do whatever necessary to bring the basketball star back home “safely and quickly”.
Earlier, Cherelle Griner, the player’s wife had also asked the Biden administration for help.
On Saturday, Penny Taylor used her induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to call for the release of her former Phoenix Mercury teammate. “BG is our family. She’s yours, too. The entire global sport community needs to come together to insist that she be a priority,” Ms Taylor said.
Earlier this month, NBA icon LeBron James issued a public call on Twitter demanding president Biden to more actively work toward securing the athlete’s release.
“As a decorated Olympian and member of an elite global sport community, BG’s detention must be resolved out of respect for the sanctity of all sport and for all Americans traveling internationally,” Mr James wrote on behalf of his company, Uninterrupted.
“It is imperative that the U.S. Government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home.”
Mr James also shared a Change.org petition for his followers to sign titled “Secure Brittney Griner’s Swift and Safe Return to the US.”