Vigil tonight calling for release of Brittney Griner, WNBA star detained in Russia for more than 100 days
HOUSTON - A major show of support for Brittney Griner is sweeping the nation. A vigil calling for her release is set for 6 p.m. Monday in front of the Toyota Center in downtown Houston, where Griner is from.
The WNBA star has been wrongfully detained in Russia for more than 100 days. Stars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have called for her release, and over the weekend the Boston Celtics took to the court wearing T-shirts reading "We are BG."
MORE: Celtics add their voices to those asking for Griner's return
The U.S. government is ramping up efforts to bring her home with Houston-area politicians also getting on board.
"She’s been declared a hostage. The person in charge is a hostage negotiator out of the State Department," said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
Griner was arrested on drug smuggling charges after Russian officials accused her of having cannabis oil in her luggage. Last month the U.S. state department declared she was wrongfully detained and condemned Russia's actions.
BACKGROUND: Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner jailed in Russia after vapes found in luggage: reports
"There was an intention to remove Brittney Griner from the airport, and to make her as now declared by the State Department ‘a hostage,’" said Congresswoman Lee.
Griner was just recently given permission to communicate with her family and friends via email, but for more than three months, she hasn’t been able to speak with them or hear their voices.
Griner is set to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on June 18. A judicial system that Congresswoman Lee says she has little faith in.
"We don’t have any basis of the belief that there is a system that you can be heard. And that when you’ve been heard, you’ll be given the fairness of innocent until proven guilty" said the congresswoman.
Everyone from the public is invited to Monday's vigil to come and show their support for the efforts to bring Griner back home.