Brittney Griner makes surprise first public appearance in New York at a conference, pledging to fight ‘for every American detained overseas’ after 10-month detention
- Brittney Griner appeared at a NAN conference to thank Rev. Al Sharpton
- Griner recently announced she’d be publishing a memoir of her time in prison
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Brittney Griner made a surprise appearance at Rev. Al Sharpton’s yearly National Action Network convention in New York City on Thursday – her first public sighting in the Big Apple since being released from a Russian prison.
Griner thanked Sharpton for his role that he played in helping to broker her release from Russia – after being held for ten months over possession of cannabis oil.
This appearance comes after Griner recently revealed she would publish a memoir detailing her time in prison.
‘It means everything to be here today,’ Griner said, via Daily News, in brief remarks after being introduced by Sharpton at his National Action Network convention at the Sheraton Hotel near Times Square.
‘Everyone in this room that came together, sent out every prayer, it reached me while I was there, and I just want to thank every single one of you here.’
Brittney Griner made her first public appearance in New York City at a conference Thursday
She appeared at the conference to thank the Rev. Al Sharpton for his role in getting her freed
Griner was arrested last year at a Moscow airport after security found cannabis oil in her bag
Griner is currently preparing for her upcoming WNBA season with the Phoenix Mercury – her eleventh season in the league.
The former champion and eight-time All-Star said that she will also be dedicating her time to advocating on behalf of American citizens who have been imprisoned overseas.
‘I want to continue to fight to bring home every American detained overseas,’ she said. ‘We have to reunite all those families that are going through this really strange time, challenging time.’
The appearance comes after Griner announced she will be planning to publish a memoir about her trials and tribulations in Russia.
She hopes her book will help other Americans detained overseas, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, arrested in Russia last month and accused of espionage; businessman Kai Li, serving a 10-year sentence in China on charges of revealing state secrets to the FBI; and Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive imprisoned in Russia on spying charges.
‘By writing this book, I also hope to raise awareness surrounding other Americans wrongfully detained abroad such as Paul Whelan, Evan Gershkovich, Emad Shargi, Airan Berry, Shahab Dalili, Luke Denman, Eyvin Hernandez, Majd Kamalmaz, Jerrel Kenemore, Kai Li, Siamak Namazi, Austin Tice, Mark Swidan and Morad Tahbaz,’ she said in a press release.
Griner’s release from prison was the result of a prisoner swap conducted by the Biden Administration that led to the release of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in return.
Griner addressed the room after being introduced at the National Action Network convention
She pledged to fight on behalf of American citizens who have been imprisoned overseas
Griner hopes her memoir will help imprisoned Evan Gershkovich (left) and Paul Whelan (right)
After her arrest back in February of 2022 – just days before Russia invaded Ukraine – Griner was held at a detention center at Moscow’s international airport.
She pled guilty on the second day of her trial back in July but said that she had a medical license to carry cannabis oil and did not intend to break the law.
Regardless, a Russian court sentenced her to nine years in prison and fined her the equivalent to over $16,000.
This was much longer than the standard sentence of 15 days for the amount of oil in her possession and was seen by international political analysts as a way for Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold sway over the West.
Griner was transferred to a female penal colony in the gulag town of Yavas in November. She remained there in a work camp under harsh conditions before her eventual release on December 8, 2022.