Brittney Griner: American basketball star breaks silence on Russia detention

·2-min read

Basketball star Brittney Griner said she had to “dig deep” to endure her ten-month detention in Russia.

The US sporting star was arrested on drug charges in February 2022 after officials at a Moscow airport found cannabis oil in her luggage.

She was originally jailed for nine years before being released in December under a prisoner swap arrangement.

Speaking for the first time since her return, the 32-year-old told a press conference: “I’m no stranger to hard times.

“Just digging deep, honestly, you’re going to be faced with adversities throughout your life. This was a pretty big one.

“You find a way to grind it out, put your head down and just keep going and keep going forward. You can never stand still.”

The Phoenix Mercury centre was released on a prisoner swap deal struck by the US government, in which notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who had been in US custody for 12 years, was also freed.

Brittney Griner unveiled a mural of Americans detained abroad at the press conference (Getty Images)
Brittney Griner unveiled a mural of Americans detained abroad at the press conference (Getty Images)

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, gave her solidarity to other Americans currently detained abroad urging them to “stay strong, keep fighting, don’t give up”.

She said: “Just keep waking up. Find a little routine and stick to the routine as best as you can. That’s what helped me.

“Just keep pushing because we’re not going to stop. We’re not going to stop fighting. We’re not going to stop bringing awareness to everyone that’s left behind right now.

She confirmed that her agent had been in touch with the family of detained US journalist Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested last month on espionage charges, which he strongly denies.

Russia said earlier Thursday it had rejected a US embassy request to visit the detained Wall Street Journal reporter in response to Washington’s refusal to grant visas to a group of Russian journalists.

The foreign ministry said it had summoned a senior American diplomat to formally protest after reporters assigned to accompany Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the United Nations this week were unable to enter the United States.

Hours later, Moscow’s envoy to Washington said he had visited two Russian prisoners being held in US jails.