The World Socialist Internet Web site calls for the Russian authorities launch basketball star Brittney Griner from jail, erase her conviction on trumped-up drug expenses, rescind the savage sentence of 9½ years in a penal colony imposed on her Thursday, and permit her to return to her house and household in the US.
The cost of drug smuggling is a clear fraud. Griner was in possession of a tiny quantity of hashish oil, prescribed by her physician for again pains brought on by enjoying an expert sport on the highest stage, 12 months after 12 months. She had forgotten to take away two vials weighing a complete of 0.7 grams from her baggage earlier than leaving for Moscow and was arrested once they have been detected on the airport.
Griner is a world-renowned athlete, not a political determine. However her arrest, trial and sentencing have been a nonetheless frame-up from starting to finish, following a script that the previous KGB agent Vladimir Putin undoubtedly discovered from his mentors within the Stalinist secret police, who carried out the present trials and mass homicide of Trotskyists, Outdated Bolsheviks and different devoted socialists within the Nineteen Thirties.
Whereas Putin has seized Griner as a bargaining chip with Washington, the Biden administration is in search of to use the Griner case to generate political assist for its imperialist intervention within the battle in Ukraine. Nobody must be taken in by the crocodile tears of the White Home. It is a authorities which has allowed a million People to die from a preventable COVID-19 pandemic and which is risking World Battle III to advertise the worldwide financial and strategic pursuits of the monetary aristocracy.
Griner was arrested on February 17, when she entered Russia to play for the UMMC skilled group in Yekaterinburg. (Yekaterinburg is the fourth largest metropolis in Russia. It was given the identify Sverdlovsk in the course of the Soviet period, after the Bolshevik chief Yakov Sverdlov. It returned to its Tsarist identify, honoring Catherine, spouse of Peter the Nice, after the restoration of capitalism.)
There was little dialogue within the American media about why Griner went to Russia, an act of appreciable independence coming solely per week earlier than the US-provoked invasion of Ukraine and whereas the Biden administration was whipping up a militaristic frenzy and demanding all People go away Russia as quickly as attainable.
She had been enjoying in Russia commonly in the course of the low season of the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation as a result of WNBA salaries are so low in comparison with these paid in different US skilled sports activities. Griner was one of many top-paid WNBA gamers however made simply over $200,000 a 12 months. The Yekaterinburg group, against this, paid her $1 million a season, consistent with the good reputation of girls’s basketball in Russia and her standing as one of many best-known and most achieved gamers within the sport, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Griner apparently grew keen on the Russian individuals and instructed the court docket at one level throughout her trial that she regarded Yekaterinburg as “her second house.” In line with a profile within the Washington Put up, “She stated she was moved by the comradeship she discovered along with her teammates there and by the passion of her followers, particularly the younger ladies who would wait outdoors the group’s change rooms to greet her. ‘That’s why I saved coming again,’ she stated.”
These humane sentiments have been rewarded by the Putin authorities with arrest, present trial and a barbaric sentence. The aim of this motion has, after all, nothing to do with drug trafficking. Griner has been successfully taken hostage with the intention to use her within the reactionary horse-trading between Moscow and Washington over the alternate of one another’s spies.
The State Division claims that it has provided to launch Russian arms supplier Viktor Bout, who’s serving a 25-year sentence in a US jail, in return for Griner and Paul Whelan, who was arrested in Moscow on espionage expenses in 2018 and sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in jail. The previous Marine has shut ties to the US military-intelligence equipment. On Friday, Russian Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that discussions on such an alternate would proceed by way of designated secret channels.
There’s widespread and fully justified sympathy for Griner amongst her fellow athletes and among the many American inhabitants as a complete. At Thursday evening’s recreation between the Phoenix Mercury and the Connecticut Solar, gamers stood arm in arm in a circle at half court docket to watch a 42-second second of solidarity honoring Griner, who wears No. 42 for the Mercury.
One in every of Griner’s teammates, guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, emphasised that the protest had nothing to do with politics (i.e., the battle in Ukraine). “It is a human being and our real-life buddy and real-life sister. … No one wished to even play at present. How are you imagined to method the sport with a transparent thoughts, and the entire group is crying earlier than the sport? Since you attempt to honor her and also you attempt to come out and nonetheless play arduous for her.”
The cruelty of the Putin regime in the direction of Griner mustn’t lead the working class in the US or in any nation to neglect that American imperialism is essentially the most highly effective reactionary drive on the planet and essentially the most vicious. The invasion of Ukraine was Putin’s determined and bankrupt response to 20 years of US-led encirclement of Russia, which has steadily expanded NATO by way of Japanese Europe, and culminated within the fascist-led coup in Ukraine in 2014, instigated by the US and German imperialism.
The Biden administration has sought to make use of the imprisonment of Griner in essentially the most cynical style, as a further component in its propaganda marketing campaign to justify the huge US army intervention within the Ukraine battle, together with tens of billions in weapons, and the deployment of US particular forces to offer intelligence, focusing on and battlefield path for the Ukrainian army.
The White Home issued a perfunctory one-paragraph assertion after Griner’s sentencing, calling it “unacceptable” and pledging “to work tirelessly and pursue each attainable avenue to carry Brittney and Paul Whelan house safely as quickly as attainable.”
Former President Donald Trump really denounced any effort to free Griner. “She knew you don’t go in there loaded up with medicine,” he stated. “She received caught. And now, we’re imagined to get her out.” This unspeakably foul remark was directed to Trump’s racist and fascist supporters, who revile Griner as a distinguished black, homosexual athlete and outspoken advocate of LGBTQ rights.
In the case of the vicious remedy of prisoners, the US can greater than match Russia. The US imprisons greater than 2 million of its personal residents, twice as many, per capita, as Russia. The jail inhabitants has elevated by a staggering 500 p.c over the previous 40 years, beneath Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Drug convictions account for by far the most important variety of prisoners, a lot of them, like Griner, convicted on the idea of frame-ups and proof concocted by the police.
As for the circumstances during which prisoners are held, American prisons are infamous for violence, illness and dying, in addition to the widespread use of such torture strategies as solitary confinement. There have been headlines about Griner being despatched to a “penal colony”—a horrible destiny, to make certain, ought to it come about. However there isn’t any such media concern for the tons of of 1000’s of inmates in American prisons who work for pennies an hour, or who’re contracted out to cost-cutting firms, or mobilized in slave-like chain gangs on roads and fields.
Starting with the Obama administration when Biden was vice chairman, the US authorities has notably focused journalists and those that search to show the crimes of US imperialism. The Obama-Biden administration prosecuted extra journalists than all earlier US governments mixed, sending Army Personal Chelsea Manning to jail for seven years for leaking proof of US atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks.
It was Vice President Biden who labeled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a “high-tech terrorist,” whereas the Obama administration introduced espionage expenses towards him and hounded him into in search of refuge within the Ecuadorian embassy in London. It was Trump whose administration mentioned plans to assassinate Assange, illegally bugged his conferences together with his protection attorneys, and backed the British police raid which dragged him out of the embassy and put him in Britain’s harshest jail.
Now it’s the Biden administration which is on the point of acquiring Assange’s extradition to the US, the place he would face a ,trial on 17 phony expenses of espionage, which might carry a jail time period of 175 years in a Supermax jail in Colorado.
The working class should demand the discharge of all political prisoners, whether or not held in one among Putin’s dungeons, or in Belmarsh jail, Britain’s Guantanamo or within the huge American gulag.