The Brittney Griner saga has been a heartwrenching and heartbreaking ordeal to witness – even from afar. While we still yearn every day, every hour, every minute and every second for their and Paul Whelan’s release, the situation appears to have completely taken a turn for the absolute worst.
Their appeal to have their prison sentence overturned was denied in a Russian court. It appears they have been transferred to a penal colony – exactly the scenario BG, their family and their legal team had attempted to prevent.
While we still hear from Washington political figures – including President Joe Biden and Antony Blinken at the State Department that they are working diligently to secure the releases of both Griner and Whelan, they somewhat fall on deaf ears when considering the lack of progress made in DC’s talks with Moscow.
Even those Washington political figures have lamented the lack of progress made in those negotiations with Russia. And the mixed signals we are getting are only fueling the uncertainty as to when Griner will be released from the hellscape they have been forced into by the Kremlin.
On one hand, we have received reports that have hinted at Biden believing that talks may pick up with the midterm elections having been completed (outside of the upcoming December 6th runoff in Georgia between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker).
On the other, reports coming from Russia appear to hint that Griner’s release is not a priority for the Kremlin. And given how Whelan’s imprisonment by Russia has become linked to the Griner ordeal, that automatically would mean his release also is not a priority for Moscow.
There is a reason why those that have been working to secure their release – as well as their inner circle – were hoping that said release would be secured prior to them being transferred to one of these Russian penal colonies. The conditions, according to reports, are said to be much harsher and more arduous than what Griner has already experienced.
And we already know that what Griner has already experienced has taken a massive toll on their mental health – as one could guess. What also makes the situation even more difficult for their team is they now have no idea which of these penal colonies they appear to have been sent to.
Another element of this that has made this situation all the more taxing on those that want the best for them (such as all of us) is the timeline in which all of this is happening. It was indicated according to reports that the transfer to one of these Russian penal colonies would take a lot longer than what appears to be the case. This hauntingly gives plenty of legitimacy to the idea that their release (and, by proxy, Whelan’s release) are not priorities for Russia.
They had no problem fast-tracking Griner’s transfer to even harsher prison conditions but do not seem to be committed to fast-tracking their release.
If it is one thing that has been keeping Griner, and their wife Cherelle, throughout what is unquestionably the most trying time of their lives, it is the outpouring of support they have received through the letters that have been sent their way. The transfer of Griner to a penal colony means (for the time being) that those wishing to send letters of support and love to Griner are now unsure as to how those letters will indeed be received by them or their team.
It is those letters and those signs of support that Griner and their family now need more than ever. It is that love that Griner and their family now need more than ever. Through no fault of their own, BG has been transferred to a dark and distant place, both physically and mentally.
Credit has to be given, particularly to those in the women’s basketball community who are making sure BG stays front and center in our brains.
Breanna Stewart has used her Twitter account every day to spotlight how many days it has been since Griner was taken into Russian custody – as has the WNBPA’s official Twitter. South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has used her social media to continue to advocate for their release. She even wore a shirt at her team’s recent contest at Maryland that said “Phree BG” with their Phoenix Mercury No. 42.
That is more than apparently can be asked from a certain LSU coach who was Griner’s coach in college at Baylor.
A new app digital marketplace app was recently unveiled that features WNBA, NBA, college and high school players with a portion of its proceeds going to a BG Advocacy Account.
Now more than ever, BG needs the advocacy. They need the love. They need to know that we are still thinking of them on a regular basis and doing everything we can to keep them and Cherelle lifted in spirit.
BG deserves to be free and back home around their loved ones.
#FreeBG #BringBGHome #WeAreBG