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Democracy NowApr 28, 2022
Free Brittney Griner: Calls Grow for Biden to Win WNBA Star's Release from Russia After Prisoner Swap
The Biden administration participated in a prisoner swap with Russia this week, freeing a Russian pilot who was jailed in Connecticut on drug charges in return for a Marine veteran imprisoned in Russia since 2019. Meanwhile, the fate of jailed basketball player Brittney Griner remains unclear. The Phoenix Mercury center is one of the biggest stars of the WNBA, but both the league and the Biden administration have said little about her case since she was arrested at a Russian airport on February 17 on allegations of carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. "There are signs that this is clearly politically motivated from the start, but the White House and the State Department seem to be giving the WNBA this advice to remain silent," says journalist Maya Goldberg-Safir, who wrote about the lack of public attention on Griner's case in a recent article for Jacobin. "We know that in order to get Brittney Griner home, the White House will need to intervene." Goldberg-Safir also notes that Griner, like many WNBA players, plays abroad during the off-season for extra income, and her arrest highlights the gender pay gap in professional sports that may have placed her at additional risk.
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