Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley speaks out on U.S. basketball star locked up in Russia

·2 min read
Joshua Boucher/jboucher@thestate.com

Dawn Staley is speaking out about a U.S. basketball star who has been imprisoned in Russia for the last three months.

Staley tweeted what she called a “Network Challenge” on Friday, calling on major news outlets to keep the case of Brittney Griner front and center after news a Russian court had extended Griner’s pre-trial detention on drug charges for another month.

“I’m issuing a network challenge (#networkchallenge) to create space on air and ticker each day until @brittneygriner is back on US soil,” the Gamecocks’ women’s basketball coach said in a tweet.

She tagged ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NBC in the tweet. Staley also called on the White House press secretary to use her daily Washington briefings to keep a focus on Griner’s case.

Griner, 31, is a center for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, but for last few years has spent the U.S. off-season playing in Russia. In February, she was detained at a Moscow airport on charges that she was carrying cannabis oil, and now faces a potential 10-year drug smuggling sentence in a Russian prison, CNN reports.

Griner’s case is seen as a potential political pawn amid U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Russian media on Friday reported that Griner may be released in exchange for a Russian arms trafficker held in a U.S. prison, Yahoo! Sports reports.

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Staley has personal experience with Griner. Before she led the University of South Carolina women to their second national championship this season, Staley coached Griner to a gold medal with the U.S. women’s national team at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

The Gamecocks coach continued to tweet about Griner’s case into the weekend, using the hashtags #FreeBrittneyGriner and #WeAreBG while retweeting coverage of her detention.

“#FreeBrittneyGriner day 86 of her wrongful detainment” Staley tweeted on Saturday.

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