Brittney Griner calls on Joe Biden to aid release of Wall Street Journal reporter arrested in Russia

Four months after her release from Russian prison, WNBA star Brittney Griner and her wife, Cherelle, called on President Joe Biden to push for the release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

Gershkovich, who had been reporting in Russia for six years and written extensively about the country's invasion of Ukraine, was arrested on espionage charges last week and faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

That sentence would be served in the same notoriously harsh prison system that held Griner until December, when the Biden administration agreed to a prisoner exchange deal with Russia that freed convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.

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In a statement released Sunday, the Griners praised the administration for its efforts in releasing prisoners like Griner and said it should keep pushing for Gershkovich.

The full statement:

Our hearts are filled with great concern for Evan Gershkovitch and his family since Evan's detainment in Russia. We must do everything in our power to bring him and all Americans home.

We are grateful for President Biden and his administration's deep commitment to rescue Americans. We celebrate their recent successful efforts to bring home Jeff Woodke and Paul Rusesabagina.

Every American who is taken is ours to fight for and every American returned is a win for us all.

That is why we call on all of our supporters to both celebrate the wins and encourage the administration to continue to use every tool possible to bring Evan and all wrongfully detained Americans home.

#WeAreBG #BringThemHome


Griner, who intends to play for the Phoenix Mercury this season, pledged after her release to use her platform to aid the release of other international prisoners, such as Paul Whelan.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner pauses on the court during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, in Phoenix. The Storm defeated the Mercury 82-70. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Brittney Griner has been in Evan Gershkovich's current position. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Griners' comments came two days after Biden issued a message to Russia to free Gershkovich and U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken spoke with Russian foreign secretary Sergey Lavrov about the matter.

The White House also released a statement soon after Gershkovich's arrest condemning the action "in the strongest possible terms."

The Wall Street Journal has been the loudest of many voices in the journalism world to call for Gershkovich's release, a cause that has escalated worries about the foreign press' ability to operate in an autocratic country that was notoriously hostile to journalists even in peacetime.