In a letter delivered to the White House by her counsel, Brittney Griner made a plea to President Joe Biden, expressing her worry that she might never go home and pleading with him to “not forget about me and the other American Detainees.”
The letter was handed in on Monday, according to Griner’s representative Lindsay Kagawa Colas. The majority of the letter’s contents to President Biden are kept private, although some of its words were disclosed by Griner’s representatives.
“I’m frightened that I might spend the rest of my life here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the support of my wife, family, friends, Olympic shirt, or any achievements,” Griner wrote.
Including my father, a Vietnam War veteran, “our family always respects the service of those who fought for our freedom on the Fourth of July,” the Phoenix Mercury center continued. Because freedom means something entirely different to me this year, it pains me to think about how I typically enjoy this day.
The two-time Olympic gold winner is currently on trial in Russia, which started last week. She was detained on February 17 while returning to play for her country’s squad, on suspicion of carrying cannabis oil. Resuming on Thursday is the trial.
Fewer than 1% of defendants in criminal cases in Russia are exonerated, and unlike in American courts, exonerations are subject to review.
Cherelle Griner, Griner’s wife, claimed on Tuesday morning that she has not spoken with President Biden directly since the letter was sent to the White House.
Cherelle Griner said on CBS Mornings, “I still haven’t heard from him and honestly, it’s extremely depressing.”
The White House National Security Council acknowledged receiving Griner’s letter on the White House’s behalf.
According to NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson on Monday, “We believe the Russian Federation is unjustly holding Brittney Griner.” “President Biden has been adamant about the need to see Brittney Griner and all other American citizens who are being held captive or unjustly incarcerated abroad released.
The American administration is continuing to use all available avenues to bring her home.
The fact that Brittney contacted Biden directly, according to Cherelle Griner, shows how terrified her wife is of what would happen next.
“BG is likely the toughest guy I know. She doesn’t say things like that casually, Cherelle explained. “That indicates she genuinely fears never seeing us again. You are aware that I concur with their feelings. She must have said something along the lines of, “I’m going to write him now since… my family has tried and to no avail.” So I’m going to handle it myself.
Griner begged Joe Biden in the letter to exercise his authority to secure her return.
Please do everything you can to get us home. I cast my first ballot for you in the 2020 election. You have my support. I still have a lot of good to accomplish with my independence, which you may aid in restoring, said Griner. “I miss my wife!
My family is what I miss the most. My colleagues are missed! My heart breaks knowing how much misery they are currently experiencing. I appreciate anything you can do to get me home at this time.
Through an email account her agent set up, Griner has been able to occasionally communicate with her family, friends, and WNBA players. The emails are examined by Russian officials before being printed out and sent to Griner in batches by her attorney. Any responses from Griner will be scanned once the lawyers return to their office, and they will then give them over to the U.S. for sending.
An “unfortunate mistake,” according to Biden administration officials, prevented her from calling her wife on the day of their anniversary.
Supporters of Griner have called for another prisoner swap like the one that brought Marine veteran Trevor Reed home in April in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of a drug trafficking ring.
In May, the State Department declared her to have been illegally detained and transferred her case under the control of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, who serves as the nation’s top hostage negotiator.
Griner is hardly the only American being jailed unlawfully in Russia. An espionage conviction has resulted in a 16-year prison term for Paul Whelan, a former Marine and security director.