For Immediate Release
August 14, 2022
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Urges Immediate Clergy for Him and Other Faith Leaders to Pray Over Detained WNBA Star

(Black PR Wire) New York, NY – Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network (NAN), today condemned the nine-year sentence issued against WNBA superstar Brittney Griner in Russia. Sharpton further urged the U.S. government to increase its efforts to bring her and her fellow American, Paul Whelan, home from Russian custody.

“The sentencing of Brittney Griner to nine years in prison is a moral outrage and a legal atrocity in any court in the world. In most places, including the United States, what she pled guilty to and was charged with, would not even have merited a misdemeanor. It is a shameful and dark day when global athletics is subjected to politics and not due process. Let’s not forget Brittney Griner not only entertained and won the hearts of many Americans, but for seven years entertained and won the hearts of many Russians as she played basketball there. Which is why her basketball coach and fellow players came and testified for her. She and Paul Whelan are clearly pawns in some global political chess game that has nothing to do with them. They should be immediately released. We call on President Biden and the United States government to redouble their efforts to do whatever is necessary and possible to release both immediately. I also continue to ask for the Russian and U.S. governments to permit me, with a delegation of clergy that I announced two months ago, to at least have an immediate visit with her as we’re concerned, even more now with this heavy sentence, about her spiritual and mental wellbeing. We ask for people all over the world to pray for Paul and Brittney and pray that we live in a world that those we may have political differences with are respected and regarded, and not used in some other way.”

Sharpton has urged Russian authorities to release Griner, who has been jailed since her February 17 arrest at a Moscow airport. Griner last month pleaded guilty to drug charges after she accidentally packed vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage. Sharpton has urged U.S. officials allow he and his fellow faith leaders to meet with and pray over Griner for her spiritual wellbeing during the trial.

About National Action Network (NAN) 

National Action Network is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the Nation with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency, and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality, or gender.

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