Lessons for Brittney Griner

Perhaps Griner's time in Russian jail will inspire newfound gratitude for American government.


Editor's Note: The following article was written by Micah Paul Veillon for The American Conservative. The Liberty Jacket edited the text and added media to conform with this publication's style. The original article can be read here.

 

The WNBA has garnered more attention over the past week than it has in its entire 26 year history. This is because Brittney Griner’s trial, in Russia, is now underway.

Griner, who was arrested on the count of smuggling drugs into Russia, was detained on February 17. After her flight landed from New York, Griner was passing through the Sheremetyevo Airport when “​​a working dog from the Sheremetyevo customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage,” according to the Russian Federal Customs Service, and further customs inspection “confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance.” And so, for bringing drugs into Russia, Griner has been charged with drug smuggling—an offense that carries up to ten years in prison. On July 7, she pleaded guilty to the charges brought against her, though she added that she had no intent on breaking the law.

In May, the Biden administration announced it had determined Griner was being wrongfully detained in Russia. Since, there has been much talk about getting Griner back to the U.S., which has naturally turned to speculation about a potential prisoner exchange. This is where Griner’s guilty plea becomes quite important, as Russian officials have stated that there will be no official talk of prisoner exchange until a verdict is reached. However, there is a name that has been floated around by Russia: Viktor Bout, nicknamed the “Merchant of Death.”