Brittney Griner fights for the rebound against the Minnesota Lynx Photo courtesy of Lorie Shaull / Flickr
Even after all this time, the United States has so far been unsuccessful in bringing WNBA star Brittney Griner home. Griner was arrested in Russia in August for possession of a vape pen containing cannabis oil. Griner was playing basketball in Russia, and has so far not been allowed to leave the country. Now, all of a sudden, Griner was transported away from the pretrial detention center that she has been in since the incident, and there is belief that she is being transported to a Russian penal colony. However, no one knows where that is.
Griner is now supposedly on her way to a penal camp, which is notorious for its brutality and harsh conditions. According to an article written by Patrick Reevell of ABC, the United States has accused Russia of using the Griner incident to blow her charges out of proportion and use her as a political bargaining chip. The United States have been in discussion with Russia for some time on what it would take to bring her home, and it seems that Russia was looking for notorious arms-dealer Victor Bout, better known as the Merchant of Death, in exchange for Griner. That deal fell through, since it is slightly absurd for the United States to let someone with such a notoriety go. Since then, Griner has been serving the nine-year sentence given to her by the Russian court. Now, with Griner on the move to a penal colony, it seems that Russia is trying to create more urgency in the United States to get her back.
Griner is one of the NBA’s best players, winning the WNBA championships in 2014 after the most dominant season in history, with the Phoenix Mercury finishing the regular season 29-5. Griner has been a nightmare for opposing teams to deal with, as her ability to score and play lockdown defense has caused her to gain a reputation as the face of the WNBA. Because of that, Griner has a lot of popularity among fans of the sport and across America.
The United States stands by its statement that Griner is being held wrongfully, but nothing has been done. Now, with Griner moving towards a penal colony, the question remains with whether or not the United States is even able to set her free. The ongoing war in Ukraine has also made matters more difficult, as the United States is standing in support of Ukraine, making it less likely that Russia is willing to get a deal done. For now, Griner’s family, team and fans can only wait for Griner to be brought back home.