Arizona Sens. Mark Kelly, Kyrsten Sinema call for immediate release of Brittney Griner
PHOENIX - Arizona's two United States senators are getting behind the effort to free Brittney Griner.
Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema have co-sponsored a resolution demanding an end to the Phoenix Mercury star's five-month detention in Russia.
"Sinema and Kelly’s bipartisan resolution calls on the Government of the Russian Federation to immediately release Griner and urges the United States to continuously press for Griner’s release in all interactions with the Government of the Russian Federation," read a statement from the resolution. "The resolution goes on to acknowledge Griner’s renowned leadership in the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as her continued efforts to provide resources for those experiencing homelessness in the Phoenix area."
Griner was arrested in February at the Russian capital’s Sheremetyevo Airport when customs officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage. She has been jailed since then, facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
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From left: Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Photos by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images, The Washington Post via Getty Images, Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Griner has since pleaded guilty, acknowledging that she possessed the canisters, but said she had no criminal intent and said the presence in her luggage was due to hasty packing.
Griner's trial is ongoing. In Russia’s judicial system, admitting guilt doesn’t automatically end a trial.
The Biden administration determined that Griner is being wrongfully detained. Griner’s wife, Cherelle, has urged the president to secure her release, calling her "a political pawn."
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Sen. Mark Kelly released the following statement:
"I’ve worked with the State Department to make sure that Brittney Griner’s safe return is a top priority, and this bipartisan resolution shows the Senate’s support for her as well. Brittney Griner is an inspiration to Arizonans and Americans across the country. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her and seeing her talent on the court up close. The Russian government unjustly detained Brittney and we will keep working with the administration to ensure her safe and swift return."