Brittney Griner was released today from Russian custody after President Vladimir Putin’s government reached a deal with the United States that included a prisoner swap.
While one family is sure to experience immense relief, a second family remains hopeful to soon be reunited with a loved one detained in Russia.After nearly 10 months in captivity as a geopolitical prisoner in Russia, the 32-year-old WNBA player was released from Russian custody and flown to the United Arab Emirates when the Biden administration announced her release.Griner was arrested and charged in Russia in February for having a vape cartridge in her luggage with less than 1 milligram of cannabis-derived oil.
The center for the Phoenix Mercury was in Russia to play for a team there during the WNBA off-season. The Russian government initiated a sham investigation into the potential of Griner’s role in the widespread distribution of drugs, and a subsequent show trial left Griner declared guilty and sentenced to nine years of detention in a notorious gulag-type Russian prison colony.Despite her pleas for mercy and appeals from the United States government, the Russian judicial system was unimpressed, and as recently as November, her appeals were denied.
Griner was made to disappear as part of the punishment process that begins with a transfer to a prison colony.Four types of prison colonies exist in Russia, each with its distinct incarceration practices.