Rep. Greg Stanton of Arizona today introduced a resolution with Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Colin Allred of Texas calling for the immediate release of Brittney Griner, the Phoenix Mercury star center and two-time Olympic gold medalist who has been wrongfully detained by the Russian Federation.
“I’ve been lucky enough to watch Brittney develop and grow as a professional athlete, but also as a leader in our Phoenix community. We won’t stop working until she’s safely back with her family,” Stanton said. Stanton, a long-time Mercury fan, welcomed Griner to the U.S. Capitol in 2019.
“We must keep Brittney’s case on the forefront and make clear to the White House that her release should be one of the highest priorities for our government,” Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, said. “I’m grateful to know that these leaders in Congress have Brittney’s back and will continue to do everything in their power to get her home.”
“This legislation that we are introducing today reinforces an important position: Brittney Griner is ‘wrongfully detained’ in Russia,” stated Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Congresswoman Jackson Lee continued, “This resolution rightly demands her release now. After working for months to ensure the State Department’s involvement, I am glad that the designation of ‘wrongfully detained’ has been declared for Brittney Griner. She is a victim of Putin’s desperation to rule the world, and unfortunately, her freedom is made more difficult by inconsistent Russian responses to our embassy personnel and a bad legal system in Russia. This legislation insists on our embassy personnel having access to Ms. Griner and restates our commitment to freeing her now. We continue to pray for her family and we will continue to work together as three Members of Congress, along with others, to spread the message that she is held wrongfully and must be freed now. We must move this legislation forward as we continue to work with the administration—specifically the State Department and the hostage negotiator—for the successful return of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan as we also pray for other Americans held around the world. Brittney Griner must be freed now, and deserves justice now.”
“When any American is held abroad, every day is a lifetime. That is especially true in Russia, and it’s why Congress must stand united in demanding the Russian Federation release Brittney Griner,” said Rep. Colin Allred, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. “Brittney has been wrongfully detained since February, and I am proud to help lead this resolution, so the House will speak in one voice against the unfair treatment of Brittney by Russia.”
Griner was detained in the Moscow Airport in February after vape cartridges containing hashish oil were allegedly found in her luggage. She has played for the Russian women’s professional basketball team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, for the past seven years during the WNBA off-season. Last week, her pre-trial detention was extended by one month.
The U.S. State Department considers Griner to be wrongfully detained by the Russian Federation, which means the department, led by the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, will seek to negotiate her release.
Stanton and his House colleagues are continuing to work with the White House, the U.S. Department of State, and Griner’s family to secure her safe return.
Text of the resolution is available HERE.