A bipartisan resolution was introduced in the US Senate on Thursday calling for the immediate release of Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner from a Russian prison.
The resolution, which was similar to one passed in the House of Representatives in June, was drafted by Sen. Mark Kelly and Sen. Kristen Sinema, both Democrats from Arizona, Sen. Ron Wyden from Oregon and Sen. John Cornyn. It was co-sponsored by 27 other senators, including Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Raphael Warnock, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Cory Booker and Senator Bernie Sanders.
“I have worked with the State Department to ensure the safe return of Brittney Griner is a top priority, and this bipartisan resolution also shows Senate support for her,” Kelly said in a statement. “Brittney Griner is an inspiration to Arizonans and Americans across the country. I had the pleasure of meeting her and seeing her talent on the court up close. The Russian government has wrongfully detained Brittney and we will continue to work with the administration to ensure her safe and speedy return.”
The resolution called on the United States to “raise the case of Brittney Griner and press for her release” in all interactions with Russia. He also offered support to Griner’s family, Paul Whelan, another American detained in Russia, and all other “prisoners unjustly imprisoned in the Russian Federation”. He also called on Russia to “grant consular access” to Griner while she is in Russian custody and for Russia to “respect Brittney Griner’s human rights.”
Griner has been detained since February 17 and pleaded guilty earlier this month to smuggling hash oil into Russia. The charge carries a 10-year sentence.
In May, the State Department reclassified Griner as wrongfully detained. Earlier Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said labeling Griner as wrongfully detained is disrespectful of Russian law.
“The people of Arizona have love and admiration for Brittney Griner on and off the court,” Senator Sinema said in a statement. “The State Department has determined that Brittney has been wrongfully detained – it is high time for her to come home.”