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Brittney Griner Is Writing a Memoir About Her Detention in Russia

Brittney Griner speaking next to her wife, Cherelle Griner, during the 54th N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards in February

 The basketball star, who was detained for 10 months, said she hoped her book would raise awareness about other Americans who had been wrongfully detained abroad.

The basketball star Brittney Griner is working on a memoir about her nearly 10 months behind bars in Russia, she said on Tuesday, adding that she hoped the book would help raise awareness about other Americans who had been wrongfully detained abroad.

Ms. Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and one of the best basketball players in the world, was detained in Russia on Feb. 17, 2022, when the Russian authorities accused her of carrying hashish oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. Ms. Griner said that day was the beginning of an “incredibly challenging” period, which she was only now ready to share.

“Readers will hear my story and understand why I’m so thankful for the outpouring of support from people across the world,” she wrote in a post on Instagram on Tuesday. In the memoir, Ms. Griner will describe “the terrifying aspects of day-to-day life in a women’s penal colony,” said a statement from Alfred A. Knopf, the publisher, and Penguin Random House, which will produce the audiobook. The book is expected to be released in the spring of 2024.

In December, the U.S. government secured Ms. Griner’s release in a prisoner swap, freeing Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who was convicted in 2011 on charges including conspiring to kill American citizens. The release of Mr. Bout in exchange for the release of Ms. Griner ignited a debate over the wisdom of prisoner exchanges for Americans whom the United States considers wrongfully detained and whether it would encourage adversaries to take more Americans hostage.

The release of Ms. Griner, who turned 32 while in custody, came after her friends, family and teammates carried out a public crusade on her behalf and put intense pressure on the Biden administration. Sports figures, including W.N.B.A. players who had amplified the #WeAreBG hashtag on warm-up shirts and social media, celebrated her release.

But the excitement was tempered by the Biden administration’s inability to secure the release of Paul Whelan, a former Marine whom the administration has also classified as “wrongfully detained,” as part of the exchange for Mr. Bout.

Ms. Griner said on Tuesday that she wanted to bring attention to the cases of other Americans detained abroad, including Mr. Whelan, and Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was arrested in Russia in March and charged with espionage.

The State Department this week designated Mr. Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” a finding that means the U.S. government sees him as the equivalent of a political hostage and believes that the charges are fabricated. The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the charges.




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