‘Bring Brittney Home’: Mobile billboards around Hollywood call for WNBA star Brittney Griner’s freedom

2022-07-31 06:41:58 By : Ms. Annie Lee

Mobile billboards with the message "Bring Brittney home" are driving around Hollywood, advocating for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian prison.

LOS ANGELES - Ahead of Thursday night’s ESPY Awards, three mobile digital billboards will drive around the streets of Hollywood that say "Bring Brittney Home," calling for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner.

The billboards are to bring attention to Griner’s imprisonment in Russia and the initiative was organized by her family, legal team, and Change.org.

SkyFOX flew over the trucks just before 11 a.m. outside Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre before they were set to start driving around the world-famous Los Angeles neighborhood to bring awareness to Griner’s situation.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and standout for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February after customs officials said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of transporting drugs.

Griner pleaded guilty and acknowledged possessing the canisters but said she had no criminal intent and said they were in her luggage because she packed hastily in her return to Russia to play for the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team during the WNBA’s offseason.

In Russia’s judicial system, admitting guilt doesn’t automatically end a trial. Since that plea, her court sessions have focused on in-person and written testimony to her good character and athletic prowess. At one point, she held up a photo of fellow WNBA players wearing her name and No. 42 on their uniforms in tribute during part of Sunday’s All-Star Game in Chicago.

"The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis," said her lawyer, Maria Blagovolina. "The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health." Medical marijuana is not legal in Russia.

The defense on Friday also submitted tests she underwent as part of an anti-doping check, which didn’t detect any prohibited substances in her system.

The next hearing of Griner’s case was scheduled for July 26.

US basketball star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession and smuggling charges in a Moscow court on Thursday, according to Russian media sources.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said they are doing all they could to win her release, as well as that of other Americans the U.S. considers "wrongly detained" by Russia, including former Marine Paul Whelan who is serving 16 years on an espionage conviction.

Washington may have little leverage with Moscow, though, because of strong animosity over its military operation in Ukraine.

"In the hearings yesterday and today what became very clear is the tremendous amount of respect and admiration both in the United States and here in Russia where Miss Griner has been playing basketball for seven years, not only for her professional achievements but for her character and integrity," U.S. Embassy charge d’affaires Elizabeth Rood said outside the courthouse in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, where the airport is located.

Griner’s detention has been authorized through Dec. 20, suggesting the trial could last months. Griner’s lawyers, however, said they expect it to conclude around the beginning of August.

FOX 11's Kelli Johnson contributed to this report.  

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