LeBron James is sharing his public support for Brittney Griner, the WNBA player and Olympic Gold Medalist who was detained upon arriving in Moscow in February after allegedly carrying weed vape cartridges in her luggage. On Monday, the basketball star shared a letter from his Uninterrupted brand calling for the U.S. government to bring the detained athlete “home swiftly and safely.”
“We need to come together and help do whatever we possibly can to bring BG home quickly and safely!!” he tweeted. “Our voice as athletes is stronger together.”
In the letter he shared, James wrote that Griner was being used by Russia as a “political pawn” and was experiencing “inhumane conditions” and had been “denied communications with her family and loved ones.”
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 6, 2022
“As a decorated Olympian and member of an elite global sport community, BG’s detention must be resolved out of respect for the sanctity of all sport and for all Americans traveling internationally,” James wrote. “It is imperative that the U.S. Government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home.”
Griner was arrested in February at a Moscow-area airport after security allegedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her carry-on bag as she tried to enter the country (Griner is one of several WNBA players who plays in Russia during the off-season). The decision to declare Griner “wrongfully detained” means the U.S. government will now take a more active role in trying to negotiate and secure her release, rather than letting Griner go through the Russian criminal justice system.
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said in a statement at the time, “Our expectation is that the White House do whatever is necessary to bring her home.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, a State Department spokesperson said, “We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas. The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner. The U.S. government will continue to provide appropriate consular support to Ms. Griner and her family.”