Brittney Griner has written a letter to President Joe Biden pleading with him not to forget about her and other Americans detained in Russia. The out WNBA star says she fears being detained forever.
“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees,” she said in the handwritten letter, which was delivered to the White House on Monday. “Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore.”
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Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested on February 17 at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow, a week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Authorities accused her of “large-scale transportation of drugs” after allegedly finding cannabis oil vape cartridges in her luggage. The charge carries a possible five- to 10-year prison sentence. Her trial began on July 1.
“I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home,” Griner wrote in her letter to Biden.
In a statement released on Monday, Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said that Biden has been clear about the need to secure the release of U.S. nationals like Griner who are being “held hostage or wrongfully detained” abroad.
“The U.S. government continues to work aggressively—using every available means—to bring her home.”
In May, the State Department categorized Griner as being wrongfully detained in Russian, and late last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning her “wrongful detention” and demanding both the U.S. and Russian governments expedite her release.
“The President’s team is in regular contact with Brittney’s family and we will continue to work to support her family. National Security Advisor [Jake] Sullivan and Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken have spoken several times with Brittney’s wife in recent weeks and the White House is closely coordinating with the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, who has met with Brittney’s family, her teammates, and her support network,” Watson’s statement said.
Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner, however, is losing patience. In an interview with CBS Mornings early Tuesday, she said that she is done being quiet.
“Initially, you know, I was told… we’re going to try and handle this behind [the] scenes and, you know, let’s not raise her value and you know, stay quiet and, you know, I did that. And respectfully, we’re over 140 days at this point, that does not work, and so I will not be quiet anymore,” she said. “I will find that balance of, you know, harm versus help in pushing our government to do everything that’s possible because being quiet, they are not moving, they are not doing anything. And so my wife is struggling, and we have to help her.”
“It kills me every time that, you know, when I have to write her and she’s asking, ‘You know, have you met with him yet?’ And you know, I have to say ‘no,’” Cherelle Griner said of her wife’s decision to write to the president. “I’m sure she was like, ‘I’m gonna write him and ask now because, you know, my family has tried and to no avail, so I’m going to do it myself.’”