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NBA champion Robert Horry said Monday he can empathize with Brittney Griner’s situation.
Griner was arrested in Russia in February and last week was convicted of drug charges and sentenced to nine years in prison. The next move is likely to be increased negotiations with Moscow for a potential prisoner swap.
Horry, who was at Clayton Kershaw’s Ping Pong 4 Purpose charity event, told Fox News Digital in an interview he has an idea of what the WNBA superstar is going through.
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“I had a friend. He played in Russia and he had a similar situation and it’s just rough on athletes who go there and play. I know the money is good but for me, I’d be too scared to go because you never know when you’re gonna do something … but for Brittney, I just feel sorry for her,” the seven-time NBA champion said.
“You go over there, you do something you love and you play for that country, you do a lot of great things for that country and all of a sudden they have a chance to punish you for something that you shouldn’t be punished for, it’s just wrong. And hopefully, I know it’s weird to say ‘appeal and get back’ but hopefully she gets back home soon.”
BRITTNEY GRINER’S SENTENCE PUTS SPOTLIGHT BACK ON STRAINED US-RUSSIA RELATIONS
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last month urging him to accept a deal for Griner and Paul Whelan, an American who was jailed on espionage charges.
Lavrov said last week in Cambodia at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that Russia was “ready to discuss” a prisoner swap but only via a dedicated Russia-U.S. channel set up by President Biden and President Vladimir Putin.
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“If the Americans again try to engage in public diplomacy and make loud statements about their intention to take certain steps, it’s their business, I would even say their problem,” Lavrov said. “The Americans often have trouble observing agreements on calm and professional work.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.