WNBA star Brittney Griner is receiving support, and possible help, from an unlikely source. Following Griner's sentencing to nine years in a Russian prison on charges of smuggling drugs into the country, pop superstar Justin Bieber is looking to help bring Griner home to the U.S.
Shortly after news broke that Russian judge read Griner her verdict Thursday, the "Peaches" singer took to Instagram to react. On his Instagram Story Bieber shared a screenshot of ESPN's breaking news story regarding Griner's sentencing, writing, "this hurts." He went on to add, "if anyone knows of anyway I can help please let me know." Bieber hasn't yet shared anything else regarding Griner and it is unclear if anyone has reached out with ways he can help.
Pop singer Justin Bieber wants to lend a helping hand in getting Brittney Griner home 🙏— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) August 4, 2022
(📸: justinbieber/IG) pic.twitter.com/TwzIq7UBig
Griner, who has played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014, was arrested in February at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after Russian authorities discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. In a statement to CNN amid her arrest, Russia said Griner "was caught red-handed while trying to smuggle hash oil," adding that, "in Russia, this is a crime." Griner was charged with smuggling of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, their precursors, or analogues, and with illegal acquisition, storage, transportation, manufacture, and processing of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, or their analogues. She pled guilty to all charges during the second hearing of her trial on July 7. Russian prosecutors had asked Griner to be sentenced to more than nine and a half years in prison. She was sentenced to just six months less than that.
Following her sentencing, Griner's lawyers called the sentence "absolutely unreasonable" and said they will "certainly file an appeal" in a statement to PEOPLE. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden called the ruling "unacceptable" and called "on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates." Biden vowed, "my administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible."
Following her sentencing, a number of notable figures reacted. Actress Mia Farrow called the ruling "heartbreaking," sharing that "the Russian judge ignored everything Britney Griner had stated." Jada Pinkett Smith also showed her support, writing, "on the same day we got justice for Breonna (Taylor)... I find out that Brittney Griner just got nine years in Russia," adding the hashtag "Free Brittney," which has been widely use amid Griner's detainment.