According to Yahoo! News, her lawyer Alexander D. Boykov says the athlete’s outlook on her situation has changed. “She has not been in as good condition as I could sometimes find her in,” he said.
The Phoenix Mercury center’s appeal of her nine-year sentence for drug possession and smuggling is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 25. If her appeal is denied, which it likely will be, she can then be sent to a labor camp. Boykov added that the eight-time WNBA All-Star is very worried about what prison she will end up in, as “she fears it will be one with miserable or inhumane conditions.”
Griner is being used as a political pawn between two countries whose strained diplomatic relationship has made talks for a prisoner exchange difficult. The U.S. makes its offer public, which leads Russian officials to argue about negotiations being made through the media, and meanwhile Brittney, a high-profile queer Black woman, continues to be wrongfully detained in a country with anti-LGBTQ+ laws. While there is still a chance a deal for a prisoner swap can be made, Griner doesn’t seem to have faith in that possibility.
“She is not yet absolutely convinced that America will be able to take her home,” Boykov said. “She is very worried about what the price of that will be, and she is afraid that she will have to serve the whole sentence here in Russia.”
Boykov’s sentiments echo those of Brittney’s wife Cherelle Griner, who recently told CBS Mornings’ Gayle King about the WNBA champion’s feelings on her wrongful detainment.
“She’s very afraid about being left and forgotten in Russia, or just completely used to the point of her detriment,” Cherelle said. “She’s saying things to me like, ‘My life just don’t even matter no more. You guys don’t see me? Y’all don’t see the need to get me back home? Am I just nothing?’”
President Biden has said on multiple occasions that he and his administration are doing everything they can to bring Brittney home. On Tuesday, during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper he explained that he saw no reason to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Bali, unless he wants to discuss the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s release.
“Look, I have no intention of meeting with him, but look, if he came to me at the G20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I would meet with him, but that would depend,” Biden said.
The increasingly tough talk between the United States and Russia means that the hard truth of this situation is that Brittney will likely end up in a Russian labor camp or prison, where she will spend an extended period of time. However, no matter what the outcome of the appeal hearing is and no matter how dire things currently look between the two superpowers, it’s essential that we never stop advocating for Brittney. The best thing we can do for her is to remind her she’s not alone.