Everything to Know About the #FreeBritney Movement Emerging on Social Media Amid Britney Spears' Ongoing Treatment
Earlier this month, Britney Spears entered a treatment facility for "all-encompassing wellness treatment" — but some fans are questioning why
Amid Britney Spears‘ ongoing wellness treatment, a group touting the “#FreeBritney” movement has emerged.
So-called fans of the 37-year-old “Piece of Me” singer have questioned the circumstances surrounding the pop star’s decision to seek treatment, believing that Spears is being held against her will. On Monday night, a crowd of fans gathered in protest outside West Hollywood City Hall and demanded Spears’ release, according to a YouTube live stream of the event.
Earlier this month, a source told PEOPLE that Spears had checked into a facility for “all-encompassing wellness treatment” to take time for herself while caring for her father, Jamie, who was hospitalized in November 2018 after his colon spontaneously ruptured.
“She recognized she needed to focus on her own health and sought treatment,” a source close to the situation said. “No one forced her to go.”
Over the last decade, the singer has “received treatment, seen a psychiatrist and other doctors,” a family source previously told PEOPLE, adding that Spears has been on board with her treatment plan. “This is something she wants to do.”
Three months prior to entering treatment, Spears announced that she was taking an indefinite break from work to support her father and that she would not be returning to the Las Vegas strip with her show Domination as planned.
Since 2008, Jamie, 66, has acted as a permanent conservator of Spears’ affairs and estate. An attorney, Andrew Wallet, resigned from his role as co-conservator of Spears’ estate in March, according to documents obtained by The Blast.
Spears’ decision to seek treatment was largely met with support from her boyfriend, Sam Asghari, 25, as well as her ex-husband Kevin Federline, 41, who told Entertainment Tonight through his attorney that he “commends Britney for recognizing that she needs to take a step back and that she is taking reasonable steps to dealing with her situation in a responsible way.”
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But on April 16, #FreeBritney began to trend on social media, seemingly stemming from allegations made in what was billed as a “special emergency episode” of the fan podcast Britney’s Gram, hosted by comedians Tess Barker and Barbara Gray.
In the episode, the hosts claimed that they received “an anonymous tip from a credible source.” They then played a voicemail from someone claiming to have been a paralegal working with an attorney connected to the conservatorship, who alleged that Spears had entered treatment against her will.
On the leaked voicemail, the anonymous tipster claimed Jamie discovered his daughter, who had been rehearsing for her Domination Vegas show, had allegedly not been taking her medications as prescribed. When Spears reportedly refused to get on board with a new care regimen, the tipster claims Jamie “pulled the show” and instructed her team to blame it on his own ongoing health struggles. The podcast’s source also claimed that although an announcement was made in April, Spears has actually been in treatment since January. The claims made in the podcast have not been corroborated.
Since entering treatment, Spears has been spotted on several outings, including a trip to get her roots and extensions done at a Los Angeles hair salon and spending time with Asghari on Easter Sunday. Most recently, Spears stepped out in Santa Monica on Tuesday with her bodyguard and assistant and grabbed frozen yogurt from Go Greek yogurt.
A source previously explained to PEOPLE that as part of the treatment process, people are encouraged to keep up with some of their usual routines.
“Hi guys, just checking in with all of you who are concerned about me,” the pop star said in a video shared on Instagram Tuesday evening.
“All is well. My family has been going through a lot of stress and anxiety lately, so I just needed time to deal.”
“Don’t worry I’ll be back very soon,” Spears added.
Spears went into further detail about her current situation in the caption writing, “I wanted to say hi because things that are being said have just gotten out of control!!!”
“Wow!!! There’s rumors, death threats to my family and my team, and just so many things — crazy things being said. I am trying to take a moment for myself, but everything that’s happening is just making it harder for me,” Spears continued.
“Don’t believe everything you read and hear.”
Spears then went on to slam her former manager Sam Lutfi for allegedly sending “fake emails” and indirectly addressed the #freebritney movement which has suggested she is being held against her will.
“I did not write them. He was pretending to be me and communicating with my team with a fake email address,” Spears wrote.
“My situation is unique, but I promise I’m doing what’s best at this moment 🌸🌸🌸 You may not know this about me, but I am strong, and stand up for what I want!”
Lutfi did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, though he later denied Spears’ allegations on Twitter. Lutfi instead blamed Spears’ business manager Lou Taylor for the emails, which were allegedly sent in 2007 and obtained by The Blast. Taylor has not responded to Lutfi’s accusations.
To close her message, Spears also praised her fans for their overwhelming support.
“Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way.”
“If you could do that, I would be forever grateful. Love you ❤️❤️❤️” Spears concluded.