Brittney Griner, the American basketball star who has been detained in Russia since February, sent a message of thanks to her supporters on Tuesday – her 32nd birthday.
According to a statement from her two lawyers in Russia, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, Ms Griner said: “Thank you to everyone who fought so hard to get me home. All the support and love is definitely helping me. “
The attorneys said they met with Ms Griner for several hours on Tuesday and forwarded messages from knowledgeable people. “Today is of course a difficult day for Brittney,” they said, adding that she was “very nervous” ahead of a hearing on her appeal on drug convictions, scheduled for Tuesday. October 25th.
Ms Griner told her lawyers last week that she was not optimistic about her chances of being released before serving her full nine-year sentence and that she was struggling mentally. Ms. Griner was allowed to go out once a day, according to Boykov, during which she walked for an hour in a small courtyard at the penalty area outside Moscow, where she was being held. She spent the rest of her time in a small cell with two roommates, sitting and sleeping on a particularly long bed to accommodate her 6-foot-9 frame.
While waiting for the appeal hearing, Mr Boykov said Ms Griner had difficulty largely because it was “very difficult” to talk to her relatives. He added that it was difficult to hold phone calls with Mrs. Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and that she has not been able to speak to her parents or siblings since being detained, as far as he is aware.
Last Wednesday, President Biden said that there was no action with Russian President, Vladimir V. Putin, on the Griner case. A White House official said last week that the administration was trying “every channel available” with Moscow, including the one through which US officials arranged a prisoner swap in April to secure the release. Trevor Reed, a former Marine who served a nine-year sentence. – five-year prison sentence in Russia.
Ms. Griner was stopped in February at an airport near Moscow on her way to play for UMMC Yekaterinburg, a Russian women’s professional basketball team. Customs officials said she was carrying two vape boxes with hash oil in her luggage. In August, she was sentenced to nine years in prison after a trial but was guaranteed to end with a sentence.
The United States has said her detention and trial were politically motivated and that the Kremlin wanted to exchange her for high-ranking Russian citizens detained in the United States. After her conviction, Russian officials said that political negotiations with the United States were underway.