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Stephen A. Smith, grateful Brittney Griner is free, warns Americans to ‘do your homework’ when traveling abroad


WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from a Russian prison after a prisoner swap was announced Thursday, prompting ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith to share his take on the matter.

Smith urged US citizens to learn from Griner’s unfortunate situation and said travelers should make sure they understand the laws of the country they are preparing to enter.

“One of the things to remember going forward, particularly when traveling internationally, is to know as much as you can,” Smith said.

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Stephen A. Smith before a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics on November 19, 2021 at the TD Garden in Boston.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Griner was arrested in February on drug smuggling charges after she brought vape cartridges containing cannabis-derived oils through a Moscow airport.

The US government traded an international arms dealer, Viktor Bout, in exchange for Griner’s release.

“There are a number of things to take away from this. The first thing is gratitude. Gratitude that she is coming home safe, sound and safe. She will be in the arms of her loved ones, her family, her basketball community,” Smith said in ” First Take”. “when she was asked to weigh.

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Smith also acknowledged that other US citizens who remain unjustly imprisoned in Russia, such as former Marine Paul Whelan, should not be forgotten.

“I saw his brother David Whelan on CNN this morning,” Smith added. “The class exemplified, recognizing the importance and relief we should all feel that Brittney Griner has been released. However, I still hope and pray that her brother, who has been detained in Russia for the past four years, finally be released.”

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom in Khimki, outside Moscow, Russia, on August 4, 2022.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom in Khimki, outside Moscow, Russia, on August 4, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Shortly after the news of Griner’s release, former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason criticized the US government after learning that Whelan was not included in the prisoner exchange.

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“I’m telling you, more people feel that way than not,” Esiason said on “Boomer & Gio.” “I can tell you right now. I know we’re all happy to have Brittney home, like we said before. But when you think about the magnitude of what we traded to win back a professional WNBA athlete and left a Marine sitting there whose family He’s been trying for years to get him out of there with nothing, nothing from the United States government.”

Cherelle Griner, wife of Olympian and WNBA player Brittney Griner, speaks after President Biden announced Brittney Griner's release from Russian custody, at the White House December 8, 2022, in Washington, DC Brittney Griner was released as part of a prisoner exchange involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Cherelle Griner, wife of Olympian and WNBA player Brittney Griner, speaks after President Biden announced Brittney Griner’s release from Russian custody, at the White House December 8, 2022, in Washington, DC Brittney Griner was released as part of a prisoner exchange involving Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Smith added that he was grateful to live in the United States.

“It just reminds me that, you know what, America, regardless of all its problems, there aren’t many places you’d rather be than the United States of America,” Smith said.

The station also noted that Americans should proceed with caution when traveling internationally.

“Do your homework because you have a lot of people who have a grudge, and you have a lot of people who have ulterior motives and will use any means necessary to get what they want.”

In August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty and explaining that she had been prescribed cannabis for her pain and had inadvertently placed it in her luggage. Her sentence was confirmed in October and she was later transferred to a penal colony.

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Paul Whelan has been jailed on espionage charges that his family and the US government have said are baseless.

“So, thank God, she returns home safely, and I hope Paul Whelan is next,” Smith said, “along with several others who are being wrongfully detained.”



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