A director had a pointed message for President Joe Biden regarding WNBA star Britney Griner after accepting an Academy Award on Sunday evening.
Ben Proudfoot, who received the award for Best Documentary Short for “Queen of Basketball”, a film about basketball Hall of Famer Lusia Harris, ended his acceptance speech by imploring President Biden to “bring Brittney Griner home.”
Griner, 31, was detained in mid-February after Russian authorities claimed they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and Mercury star faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if found guilty of transporting drugs, according to ESPN.
Last week, the U.S. State Department insisted that the Russian government provide consular access to detained U.S. citizens, including Griner. Spokesperson Ned Price confirmed that U.S. State Department officials met with the WNBA player and said she was in “good condition.”
“Within the past couple hours, an official from our embassy has been granted consular access to Brittney Griner,” Price told CNN. “We were able to check on her condition. We will continue to work very closely with her legal team, with her broader network to see to it that she’s treated fairly. That is a message that we will continue to convey in no uncertain terms to the Russian federation.
“There’s only so much I can say, but what I can say is that our official found Brittney Griner to be in good condition, and we will continue to do everything we can to see to it that she is treated fairly throughout this ordeal.”
Griner plays for Russian club UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason and was leaving the country when she was detained in February. The country recently extended her detention until May 19.