The Stream

How can Brittney Griner be freed from Russian detention?

On Monday, June 6 at 19:30 GMT:
It has been more than 100 days since US basketball star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia.

Authorities there allege that Griner flew into Moscow on February 17 with  vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She is accused of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance – an offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

On May 13 Griner attended a Russian court, where her pretrial detention was extended by another month. That ruling came days after the US State Department said Griner had been “wrongfully detained“.

Before the State Department’s declaration, Griner’s family and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) had not commented in detail about her detention, worried that publicity could make her situation worse amid ever-worsening rising political tensions between Russia and the US.

Now Griner’s wife, WNBA players, and the players’ union have tweeted widely about her detention and have demanded her immediate release. Yet there is little other media coverage of Griner’s case.

A recent prisoner swap saw US citizen Trevor Reed released from jail in exchange for a Russian pilot, and now some experts say Russia could attempt to bargain for the release of arms dealer Viktor Bout – also known as “the Merchant of Death” – who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the US.

In this episode we’ll follow up on Griner’s case, and ask: if a campaign to release her is underway, then why are US politicians and major athletes in other sports still silent?

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Danielle Gilbert, @_danigilbert
Assistant Professor, Department of Military & Strategic Studies, US Air Force Academy

Jason Rezaian, @jrezaian
Global Opinions Writer, The Washington Post

Jonathan Franks, @jonfranks
President, LUCID Strategies