Brittney Griner has to tragically spend her 32nd birthday behind prison bars in Russia. The WNBA star was sentenced to nine years in prison.
On Tuesday, Griner’s lawyers released a message to the public on her behalf.
“Thank you everyone fighting so hard to get me home,” Griner said in a statement. “All the support and love are definitely helping me.”
Griner’s wife, Cherelle, also issued a statement:
“I want to thank President Biden for the Administration’s efforts to secure her release,” she said, via TMZ. “As my family and I continue on this journey, I’d like to thank our friends, leaders and supporters who continue to stand with us and advocate for Brittney’s swift and safe return.”
Griner was detained in February when entering Russia for possession of cannabis oil. The center pleaded guilty to drug charges, saying that she accidentally packed vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.
After her arrest, U.S. State Department classified Griner as wrongfully detained, meaning that regardless of her legal status in Russia, the US government will seek to negotiate her release.
Since announcing back in July that they had made a “substantial proposal” to bring Griner and Paul Whelan, a former US marine serving a 16-year sentence in Russia, back to the US, not much has been heard from Russian officials.