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Boxing legend Roy Jones Jr., who holds dual citizenship in the United States and Russia, said he has been working in an attempt to free Brittney Griner from a Russian prison.
“Would I put my life on the line, take a chance to go to Russia to exchange prisoners? Yes, I would,” Jones told TMZ Sports (3:47 mark). “Why? Because if it was my daughter, I would want somebody to do the same thing for me.”
The United States has classified Griner as being “wrongfully detained.”
“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is among the highest priorities of the U.S government,” the U.S. State Department (h/t ESPN’s T.J. Quinn) said last month. “The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner. … The U.S. government will continue to undertake efforts to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner.”
The Russian government pushed Griner’s trial back until at least July 2 last week. She will remain incarcerated until at least that date, barring some intervention that allows her to be freed.
Jones said he has spoken to a friend who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin about Griner’s release. According to Jones, Russia would be amenable to a potential prisoner exchange.
“My friend called and he called me back and he said, ‘Yes, they said they’d be willing to do a prisoner exchange.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s probably rough because the prisoner exchange is probably a real prisoner.’ She’s not necessarily a person that’s a real prisoner, but I’m sure that maybe the U.S. will be understanding of this and get her back home because I’d be terrified if my kid was stuck in a foreign country in jail, you know?”
Griner has played basketball in Russia since 2014 for UMMC Ekaterinburg.