Billy Hayes of ‘Midnight Express’ has advice for Brittney Griner


(NewsNation) — Support to bring Brittney Griner home continues to grow despite the WNBA star pleading guilty to drug charges on Thursday.

During an exclusive interview on NewsNation’s “Banfield,” Billy Hayes, who spent five years in a Turkish prison for drug smuggling, shared advice for Griner. He says the mentality she uses to succeed as an athlete will be invaluable as she navigates this.

“If you can keep a control on yourself, it puts perspective on things,” Hayes said. But he knows that’s much easier said than done.

The Academy Award-winning blockbuster film Midnight Express is based on Hayes’ autobiography.

In 1970 Hayes was an English major who left college, but he had a rude awakening when he was arrested at a Turkey airport while carrying four pounds of hashish. He was given a life sentence.

Five years after his arrest, with no movement on the diplomatic side, Hayes escaped back to the United States as a fugitive.

He shares a similar story to Griner, who was caught with vape cartridges containing hashish oil.

“Unfortunately, I can relate. The beginning of this process is something that she inadvertently got into,” Hayes said on “Banfield.” “I know she had some hashish oil in her bag. It’s for her own personal use, and she had a prescription for this. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really matter in a lot of foreign countries because laws are different. You need to discover the differences quickly, or you end up in a very bad place.”

Hayes said he thinks that Russia would like to bring Brittney home because the world is watching.

“We should be emphasizing that we are watching. Hopefully, now that her her sentence is going to be finished, all the legal ramifications that take forever in any country, but especially a foreign countries,” Hayes said.

Hayes said he hopes Brittney will focus on the small victories, no matter how big or small.

“It looks awful from the inside, but to know there are people on the outside who care and are working for you, that will help a lot.”

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