Brittney Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas has claimed that there are political motives behind the WNBA star’s sentence. Her client was arrested in Russia back in February for cannabis oil possession and was sentenced on Thursday by the court to nine years in jail.
Kagawa Colas also expressed her gratitude to US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken for their efforts to bring Griner back to the United States.
“Today’s sentencing of Brittney Griner was severe by Russian legal standards and goes to prove what we have known all along, that Brittney is being used as a political pawn,” Kagawa Colas posted on Twitter.
“We appreciate and continue to support the efforts of to bring Brittney, Paul and all Americans home.
“Bringing Brittney and Paul home is the sole objective, and as such, we should use all available tools. We must remain focused and unified.
“This is a time for compassion and a shared understanding that getting a deal done to bring Americans home will be hard, but it is urgent and it is the right thing to do.”
WNBA and NBA call for her release
Both the WNBA and NBA have criticised the verdict and asked the Russian authorities to release Griner. In addition, several WNBA players, such as A’ja Wilson and Dijonai Carrington, have posted messages of support for their teammate on social media.
Biden reacted to the sentence on Thursday, demanding that Russia “immediately” release Griner, and promising that his government will continue to work “tirelessly” to ensure her return to the country.
The proposed exchange for Viktor Bout
According to CNN, the Biden administration made a proposal to Russia to trade Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is imprisoned in the US. The WNBA star was sentenced on Thursday in a court in Jimki, in the Moscow region.