Over the past few days, #FreeBritney has been trending on social media after allegations were made in a "special emergency episode" of the fan podcast Britney's Gram that the 37-year-old singer is being held against her will. Now, ET's breaking down what led to the creation of the hashtag, and why her fans are so concerned.
ET learned in early April that Britney had checked herself into a health facility to deal with the tremendous stress she's been having over her father, Jamie Spears', current health crisis. The check-in came just a few weeks after she put her career on an indefinite hiatus, postponing her album and putting her Britney: Domination show at Park Theater at the Park MGM resort in Las Vegas on hold before it even began.
"I am dedicating my focus and energy to care for my family," Britney said in a statement at the time. "We have a very special relationship and I want to be with my family at this time just like they have always been there for me."
"Thank you to all my fans for your continued love and support during this time," she continued. "I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and I look forward to the time when I can be back on stage performing for all of you."
Tess Barker and Barbara Gray, comedians and creators of the Britney's Gram podcast, revealed on Tuesday that they received "an anonymous tip from a credible source" alleging that Britney entered the health facility against her will. Around the 8:22 mark of the podcast episode, Babs and Tess play back a voicemail that is allegedly from a paralegal who used to work for an attorney that was involved in Britney's conservatorship.
"Hi there. I cannot disclose who I am. I just heard the latest episode and you guys are on to something," the unidentified person on tape claims. "What is happening is disturbing, to say the least. Basically, Britney was in rehearsals for Domination. It came to Jamie's attention that Britney was not taking her medication as prescribed. She was missing a lot of doses and just full-on not taking them."
"So they got her to the doctor and the doctor said, 'OK, if you don't want these medications, let's get you on a new one.' She refused to take the new one," the person's claims continue. "Jamie said, 'Either you take this medication or the show's off, and I'm pulling my support and you can't do it.' Britney did not follow Jamie's instructions, so he was true to his word -- he pulled the show, he verbatim said, 'Blame it on my illness.' ... Britney has been in the mental facility since mid-January. There is no timeline, there is no end date particularly in sight for this stay at this mental facility to end. She did not want to go. ... From what I understand, this is not a decision she made, at all."
Britney's father has been her conservator since 2008. He became her sole conservator this year after attorney Andrew Wallet abruptly resigned in March. When under a conservatorship, a judge appoints a responsible person or organization to act as the legal guardian. They make the decisions on everything from finances to personal decisions, like whether Britney can get married.
Britney's mother, Lynne Spears, who divorced from Jamie in 2002, has fueled the fire even more by liking Instagram comments from fans who believe the singer is being held against her will and urging others to listen to the podcast. "I really hope you are supporting Britney in trying to end [her] conservatorship," one of the comments Lynne liked read. "I really hope your ailing ex-husband isn't keeping your daughter somewhere against her will."
Singer Eve also wore a "#FreeBritney" T-shirt during her appearance on The Talk on Wednesday. "I am wearing this shirt because we all love her," she explained. "I've always been a Britney fan and I want her to be getting the help she's getting, but not under duress."
"We don't know anything, but hopefully this is putting the right eyeballs on it if, god forbid, anything wrong is happening," she added.