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Brittney Griner is in worse position because of ‘large portion of the population in Russia which is racist,’ former detainee says

Brittney Griner.

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

  • Trevor Reed urged Biden and Congress to work on freeing basketball star Brittney Griner from Russian custody.
  • Reed, a former Marine recently freed from detainment in Russia, said a “large portion” of Russians were racist.
  • Reed also said that the Russian government “systematically discriminates” against the LGBTQ community.

Basketball star Brittney Griner may be in a “worse position” while in Russian custody because she is Black and a lesbian, Trevor Reed, a Marine Corp veteran freed from Russian custody, said at a Houston rally for Griner on Tuesday. 

“Brittney, especially in Russia, is probably in a lot of ways in a worse position than I was because Brittney is African American. There’s a large portion of the population in Russia which is racist,” Reed said. 

“They also have a government that systematically discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transexual people under Vladimir Putin,” Reed continued. “And those things are obviously going to make Brittney’s time there a lot more difficult than if they just had taken another American hostage.” 

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, entered Russian detention on February 17 after authorities at a Moscow airport said they found hashish oil in her luggage. Griner has since been classified as “wrongfully detained” by the US State Department. 

Reed was detained in Moscow in 2019 after being convicted for attacking Russian police. He was released from Russian prison on April 27 as part of a prisoner exchange. Reed’s family said he suffered, including getting a suspected broken rib and catching COVID-19, during his stay in a Russian prison.

While speaking about Griner in Houston, Reed also advocated for the release of Paul Whelan, another Marine veteran, detained by Russians after being accused of espionage. He was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison but maintains his innocence.

Reed urged attendees to “put pressure” on the White House and Congress to free Griner and Whelan “at any cost,” including additional prisoner exchanges.

“There is no justice in Russia. Brittney and Paul will not receive justice in Russia,” Reed said. “They’re not going to receive a fair trial. They will not receive a fair investigation. They will be there as hostages until the United States gets them out.”

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