dawn-staley-expresses-concern-for-brittney-griner,-praying-for-her-amid-arrest-in-russia

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Dawn Staley, a former WNBA star and current coach of the top-ranked South Carolina women’s basketball team, expressed her concerns about Brittney Griner on Wednesday.

Staley tweeted she was praying for the Phoenix Mercury center’s safe return home after she was arrested in Russia for allegedly possessing vape cartridges that contain oil derived from cannabis.

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South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley congratulates a player during the second half of an NCAA college basketball semifinal round game against Mississippi at the women's Southeastern Conference tournament Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. South Carolina won 61-51.

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley congratulates a player during the second half of an NCAA college basketball semifinal round game against Mississippi at the women’s Southeastern Conference tournament Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. South Carolina won 61-51. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

“I can’t stop thinking about and praying for Brittney Griner. My prayer is for her to find the perfect peace and strength to get thru each day…..and a special prayer for those who are working for her immediate release,” Staley tweeted. “Please keep them lifted in prayer until she’s stateside.”

Reports of Griner’s arrest surfaced Saturday. She was detained at a Moscow airport after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed the vape cartridges. Griner could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

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Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Burgess Owens, R-Utah, in a letter to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken – and exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital – acknowledged Griner may have violated Russian law but wrote that her detention since sometime in February was concerning given the deteriorating geopolitical climate.

“Today, we write to you regarding the unfortunate case of Women’s National Basketball Association (W.N.B.A) star Center Brittney Griner who remains in a Russian prison for violating the country’s illegal substance laws,” the Congress members wrote. “Every American – regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status – must adhere to the rules of every sovereign nation. While we are not here to call balls and strikes on Russian law, we are very concerned about Mrs. Griner’s detention under the current and rapidly deteriorating circumstances in Russia and Eastern Europe.

SAITAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 04: Brittney Griner #15 and head coach Dawn Staley of Team United States celebrate a win against Team Australia during the second half of a Women's Basketball Quarterfinals game on day twelve of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 04, 2021 in Saitama, Japan.

SAITAMA, JAPAN – AUGUST 04: Brittney Griner #15 and head coach Dawn Staley of Team United States celebrate a win against Team Australia during the second half of a Women’s Basketball Quarterfinals game on day twelve of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 04, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

BRITTNEY GRINER ARREST: GOP CONGRESSMEN URGE BIDEN ADMIN TO STAND UP TO ‘BULLY’ PUTIN AMID STAR’S DETENTION

“While Mrs. Griner made a grave mistake, we condemn the Russian government’s utilization of her as a pawn to further their ruthless and sick goal of fulfilling the reincarnation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). We call upon your administration to look Putin in the eyes and send a clear message to the Kremlin that America will not tolerate Putin using Americans as his pawn during this treacherous and bleak moment in world history. Putin’s unprovoked and murderous attack on Ukraine is a slap in the face to the Western world, and it is time that the United States stands up to this bully. Mrs. Griner has proudly represented our country here at home and on the world stage, becoming one of the few W.N.B.A players to win a college championship, W.N.B.A and Euroleague titles, and an Olympic gold medal — and we urge the safe return of Mrs. Griner and any other Americans detained in Putin’s hellhole of a country.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) reacts after a basket against the Las Vegas Aces during the second half of Game 2 in the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Las Vegas.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) reacts after a basket against the Las Vegas Aces during the second half of Game 2 in the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

“In closing, it is more apparent than ever that actions have consequences, but no American should fall hostage to a heinous and deranged dictator,” they added. “As Ukraine continues to fight for its freedom valiantly, the United States of America must send a message to the world that freedom must always prevail and that no American will be left behind. We pray for Ukraine and the safe return of Brittney Griner.”

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Griner has spent her last seven winters in Russia, where she earns more than $1 million per season. The figure is more than quadruple her WNBA salary. She last played for her Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, on Jan. 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.

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