RUSSIA — It’s been three months since WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia. And the efforts to get her released continue, as a petition at change.org has garnered nearly 140,000 signatures calling for the U.S. government to bring her home.
“The WNBPA and its members proudly join Tamryn Spruill, the creator of this petition, in demanding that lawmakers prioritize Griner’s return,” the petition reads. “White House and Biden administration, we ask that you take action today — doing whatever is necessary — to bring Brittney Griner home swiftly and safely.”
The petition was created over a month ago. As of Tuesday, 136, 480 people had signed the petition nearing its goal of 150,000. Journalist Tamryn Spruill, the petition’s organizer, started it to make sure Griner’s detainment didn’t get swept under the rug.
“I just don’t want Brittney Griner and the other people being held in Russian prisons to be lost in the narrative,” Spruill said in an interview Jake Tapper on CNN. “I don’t want time to just pass and for them to kind of fall through the cracks with all of the ramifications of what’s happening due to Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Griner was arrested on Feb. 17 for allegedly having vape cartridges which contained hashish oil in luggage that was searched at the Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow. If convicted of the offense, the 31-year-old could face up to 10 years in prison.
“Brittney Griner is an icon,” said Spruill. “I would consider her definitely on the court. She’s a champion, she’s a gold medalist, she’s won championships for the team she played for in Russia — Ekaterinburg. And off the court, she came out as a gay woman before even signing her contract with the Phoenix Mercury, where she’s played her entire career and that made a statement.”
“She wanted to live authentically. She didn’t want to have to hide who she is, and that has been the real game changer in our society just by being visible and allowing herself to say, ‘this is me…’”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Government declared it believed that Griner was “wrongfully detained.” Last week, the 31-year-old pre-trial detention was extended one month. Following the news of the extension, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s agent, took to Twitter to tweet that their team expects the government “to use all options available to immediately and safely bring Griner home.” According to officials who spoke with her then, Griner was “doing as well as can be expected in these circumstances.”
“It is imperative that the U.S. government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home quickly and safely,” the petition reads.
Players across the league continue to show their support. Following the hashtag, #WeAreBG and #FreeBG, draws one into a rabbit hole of solidarity for the seven-time league All-Star.
“Gameday in LA… which unfortunately means another day that our sister, Brittney Griner, has spent wrongfully detained in Russia,” tweeted Natalie Achonwa. “89 days too long. Please take the time to sign this petition! the @WhiteHouse needs to prioritize bringing BG home. #WeAreBG .