Brittney Griner Writing Memoir on Russian Detainment

Brittney Griner is working on a memoir about her experience of being wrongfully detained in a Russian prison. On Tuesday, Griner and her publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced the book. It is due out next spring and is expected to cover Griner's harrowing story in more detail than has ever been released before.

"After an incredibly challenging 10 months in detainment, I am grateful to have been rescued and to be home. Readers will hear my story and understand why I'm so thankful for the outpouring of support from people across the world," Griner said in a statement published by CNN. Griner was arrested in February of 2022 and was held in custody for just under 300 days. Russian authorities claimed that they found cannabis oil in Griner's luggage and sentenced her to nine years in prison, but the U.S. State Department deemed it to be a wrongful detainment.

Griner was finally released in December of 2022 in a prisoner swap for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. The story was mired in controversy and speculation about international relations – not to mention Griner's personal life. As a woman of color and a married lesbian, she faced harsh scrutiny in the press both at home and abroad.

"That day was the beginning of an unfathomable period in my life which only now am I ready to share," Griner said on Monday. "The primary reason I traveled back to Russia for work that day was because I wanted to make my wife, family, and teammates proud. By writing this book, I also hope to raise awareness surrounding other Americans wrongfully detained abroad."

Many pundits have noted that this announcement comes alongside Russia's detainment of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershokovich. On Monday, the U.S. State Department deemed this a wrongful detainment as well. Meanwhile, American Paul Whelan has been in Russian custody since 2018.

Griner was playing for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA at the time of her arrest, but during the off-season she played in a Russian league from 2014 until the time of her arrest. She was prescribed medical marijuana in Arizona, but in Russia, cannabis is illegal under any circumstances. However, many analysts believed her arrest was based on political reasons. They argue that Russian authorities believed they could use Griner's detainment as leverage to combat Western sanctions amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Griner has shared details of her story with several prominent news outlets since her release, but her book is expected to go deeper than any previous discussion. It will hit shelves in the spring of 2024.