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WNBA Star Brittney Griner Released From Russian Detention

Brittney Griner has finally been released from Russian custody…

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This comes after months of being held behind bars on the charges of smuggling.

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Keep reading for the latest.

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Brittney Griner was sentenced to 9 years in prison.

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She was found guilty of drug possession and smuggling with criminal intent by a Russian court.

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Griner was in Russian custody since being detained in February.

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This came after the Russian Federal Customs Service found vape cartridges containing hashish oil, a marijuana concentrate, in her luggage.

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In her final plea to the court, Griner said: “I never meant to hurt anybody.”

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“I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population. I never meant to break any laws here. I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here.”

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The Texas-born professional basketball player’s defense team has slammed the verdict…

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The New York Times reported that they called it “absolutely unreasonable.”

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They also said they will “certainly file an appeal.”

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Griner was also fined 1 million rubles (around $16,300) by the court.

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The US government was said to be doing everything it could to get Griner home…

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But it was not only the government trying to help Griner…

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Professional basketball player Kyrie Irving also called out President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to issue more information on the matter…

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And his series of tweets have gone viral on the internet.

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“What is truly happening with our Queen @brittneygriner @POTUS @VP?

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 “Please give us an Update,” he added.

And it’s not only Irving who has raised a voice out loud…

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“Anyone that goes back to Russia to play is insane. Praying for BG man…this is breaking my heart seeing her right now 😔😔😔,” wrote WNBA star Lexie Brown.

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Ex-NFL star Robert Griffin also expressed his opinion in favor of Brittney.

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“BRING BRITTNEY GRINER HOME!!!” tweeted Griffin.

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The NBA and WNBA released a joint statement too and according to TMZ it said: “Griner’s verdict and sentencing was unjustified and unfortunate,” but noted that the organization “will stop at nothing to make sure she comes home.”

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But the support for Griner didn’t stop there…

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Even Justin Bieber has let out how he feels about the matter.

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“If anyone knows of anyway (sic) I can help please let me know,” Bieber wrote.

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However, it was previously reported that the USA made a “very good offer” to bring Brittney back home.

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The facility that she faces incarceration in was then revealed.

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The prison has a reputation in Russia as one of the worst facilities in the country.

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It’s called IK-14, and it does not look good.

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It’s even been dubbed a ‘gulag labor camp’, according to Business Insider.

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The report by Business Insider says the prison is situated in Russia’s central region of Mordovia.

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And it’s just as bad as it sounds.

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Covered by a blanket of snow, the dismal grey building is far worse than the typical prison you’d expect here in the U.S.

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The building, surrounded by barbed wire, is said to be infested with rats, as well as various diseases, putting the prisoners at risk.

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Former inmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who’s a political activist, previously described staying there.

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She claimed they had to work 17 hours a day, with 1 days off every 2 months.

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Another former inmate, Gelena Alekseyeva, also went into detail about the colony.

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“Mice lived with us. Rats lived with us in the industrial zone,” she told Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. “Before you went into the bathroom, you needed to knock — there were special poles for that. So that the rats would scatter.”

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Former NBA star, Dennis Rodman, has spoken out about Griner’s sentence…

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According to reports, Rodman, who has tried to cultivate an image as an informal U.S. diplomat to North Korea and Russia, is doing something about it.

He is more likely to hurt than help, said a senior Biden administration official.

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“It’s public information that the administration has made a significant offer to the Russians and anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder release efforts,” said the official.

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Rodman has already cultivated a relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the past decade, by making multiple visits to the country.

And that’s not all…

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He called Russian President Vladimir Putin “cool” after a 2014 trip to Moscow…

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While in 2018, he showed up on the sidelines of former President Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, crediting himself with helping to secure the release of American Kenneth Bae from North Korea.

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“I got permission to go to Russia to help that girl,” Rodman told NBC News in a restaurant in Washington DC.

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The legendary NBA player said he’s doing all he can to get to Russia.

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 “I’m trying to go this week,” he added.

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If Rodman goes to Russia, it won’t be the first time he’s dealt with an international leader who has strained relations with the U.S.

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But Ned Price, a State Department spokesperson, has recently revealed something interesting…

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According to TMZ, Price said Rodman would not be traveling on behalf of the U.S. government.

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This was mainly because the government felt Rodman’s involvement might mess up the U.S.’s current negotiations with Russia to get Griner out.

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And reportedly Rodman too decided not to travel to Russia, after the government strongly advised against him traveling there.

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Since then, Griner’s wife, Cherelle, told CBS’s Gayle King that that first August phone call with Griner after she was first detained, was “delightful.” 

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“She’s OK,” Cherelle recalled thinking at the sound of her wife’s voice and added: “We can survive this.”

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But according to reports, the second phone call was described by Cherelle as “the most disturbing phone call” she’s ever experienced. 

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As per reports, the minute she hung up the phone, she said she began crying and didn’t leave her bed for days.

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“You could hear that she was not OK… you could hear that she was at the max [suffering] that day, and there was nothing I could do. At that point, I didn’t know if she had anything left in her tank to continue to wake up every day and be in a place where she has no one,” Cherelle told King.

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Cherelle said that when she saw photos of Griner handcuffed, sullen, and gaunt as she passed through Russian courthouses prior to her sentencing, she could tell “she’s not herself.”

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She said that she knows Griner is being as strong as she possibly can be while locked up in a Russian prison and isolated from her friends and family, but she also cannot fathom that even at her “absolute weakest moment in life.”

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Cherelle added: “She’s very afraid about being left and forgotten in Russia or just completely used to the point of her detriment. She’s saying things to me like, ‘My life just don’t even matter no more. I feel like my life doesn’t matter. Y’all don’t see me. Y’all don’t see the need to get me back home.'”

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Griner has celebrated her thirty-second birthday in prison.

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She shared a statement with her supporters.

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“Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home,” Griner said in a statement through her lawyer Maria Blagovolina, as per CNN.

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“All the support and love are definitely helping me.”

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However, Griner’s appeal has been denied in court, TMZ reports.

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The WNBA star wasn’t physically present during the hearing on October 25 but she was present via videoconference, where she was inside a prison cell.

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Griner and her team of attorneys hoped for the court to overturn a previous ruling in the case.

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If not, then at least reduce the prison sentence.

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Her attorney strongly argued that her prison sentence didn’t fit the crime she committed.

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However, they weren’t expecting to win the hearing in court, as they stated that they did not “expect any miracles to happen.”

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Griner’s lawyer, Alexander Boykov, opened up about her daily routine while incarcerated.

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“They go to sleep around 10 p.m. and that’s when the lights turn off and the television’s turned off,” he said.

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“They watch television, they prepare themselves food, they read, and that’s basically it.

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“Every day is the same.

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“There’s no gym, no runway, no basketball court,” Boykov said.

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A lack of autonomy, plus being denied her favorite activities is making Griner’s stay sound pretty miserable.

But things then got worse for Griner…

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Griner’s lawyers reportedly lost contact with her after she was transferred over to a Russian penal colony.

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The transfer has been something her family and legal team have feared ever since she was convicted back in August.

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A penal colony is described to be much worse than a detention center.

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Prisoners are forced to do manual labor, and it’s much harder for inmates to stay in contact with the outside world.

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Griner’s agent, Lindsay Colas, released a statement saying the number one concern is her client’s health and well-being.

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“We are thankful for everyone’s support, and hope that as we near nine months of detention, that BG and all wrongfully detained Americans will be shown mercy and returned home to their families for the holidays,” Colas said.

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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also released a statement about Griner’s transfer.

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“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long,” he wrote.

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“As the Administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the President has directed the Administration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony.”

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And now, horrifying details of Griner’s location have emerged.

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“The notorious penal colony is known as a rat-infested sweatshop for prisoners, some of whom have lost fingers during long hours at their sewing machines. To deal with the rat population, the guards enlisted stray cats, which were later discarded into furnaces to keep their numbers down, according to a 2019 Radio Free Europe report,” the Daily Mail reports.

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“Inmates work from 12 to 16 hours a day with lunch and toilet breaks,” the BBC reports. “Daily quotas are set very high, but one official salary is normally shared by several inmates. As a result, inmate workers only get a pay of several hundred roubles a month.”

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“I worked as a seamstress and there is a law: if you do not fulfill the production rate, you are beaten,” former inmate Irina Noskova confirmed.

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The US Department has released a statement following the update.

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“We are aware of reports of her location, and in frequent contact with Ms. Griner’s legal team,” the statement reads.

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“However, the Russian Federation has still failed to provide any official notification for such a move of a U.S. citizen, which we strongly protest. The Embassy has continued to press for more information about her transfer and current location.”

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Griner is reportedly living a “miserable” life in the new penal colony.

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Some believe her harsh sentencing had something to do with the west’s reaction to the war in Ukraine…

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And that she’s being kept as a high-profile hostage by Russia.

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Marina Alexandrova, an expert in Russian prisons, has given some insight into Griner’s daily life there…

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“Her life will be very difficult,” she said. “It will be terrible.”

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Inmates are allegedly forced to wake up at 6 am before being fed milk porridge, bread, and tea after which they are sent off to work…

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During the day they are only allowed a short lunch and an hour of free time before being made to go to bed.

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Griner’s lawyers have added in a statement: “Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adapts to a new environment.

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“Considering that this is a very challenging period for her, there will be no further comments from us.”

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But now, in a shocking turn of events, Griner has been released from Russian custody, NBC News reports.

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This comes after the Biden administration allegedly negotiated her release.

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The U.S. made a trade with Russia, to free Griner in exchange for the Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, who has been serving time here in America.

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What do you think?

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