Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema relieved by Brittney Griner’s release from Russian prison
PHOENIX — Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner is back in Texas after spending nearly 10 months in a Russian prison, and U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said she felt relief more than anything by the news of her release.
“I’m just incredibly relieved for her, for her family and for all of us in Arizona who’ve been for so many months worried about Brittney Griner’s health and her fate,” Sinema said Friday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad Show.
Sinema and Sen. Mark Kelly cosponsored a Senate resolution calling for Griner’s release in July.
Following her wrongful detainment earlier this year, we’ve closely engaged with @StateDept and introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for Brittney’s release. I know we’re all relieved the day has come. Arizona – and America – welcomes her back with open arms. 2/2
— Kyrsten Sinema (@SenatorSinema) December 8, 2022
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and most high-profile American jailed abroad was released this week in a prisoner swap with Russia, a deal which freed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout from U.S. custody.
Sinema said she is not in a place to criticize such an exchange, noting that Griner’s situation was deteriorating after she was transferred to a penal colony.
“I’m not here to second guess the administration’s decision,” Sinema said. “I wasn’t a part of those negotiations. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to say what they should have done or could have done. What I can say is that I am incredibly relieved that Brittney is home safe.”
Now that the deal is over, Sinema’s message is positivity surrounding Griner.
The basketball star’s detention made national waves throughout her trial for having carrying vape canisters with cannabis oil in a Russian airport.
“Frankly, we don’t even know what she’s gone through,” Sinema said. “It’s going to take a lot of time for her to really get her health back, her physical health and her mental health. So I hope that all of us just send supportive, kind messages to her and frankly, I think we can all use some depoliticization. I know it’s surprising to hear me say that of this. Let’s just be happy that Brittney is safe.”