WNBA star Brittney Griner asked President Joe Biden to bring her home from her detention in Russia, where she is being tried on charges of drug smuggling, telling the president in a handwritten letter, “I am terrified.”
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or whatever, I am terrified that I will be here forever,” Griner wrote.
A spokesman who released excerpts of Griner’s letter Monday said the document was delivered to the president at the White House on Monday. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
Griner, 31, a Houston resident who is a center for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained in February by agents of Russia’s Federal Customs Service at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. She plays for a Russian team during the WNBA’s outdoor season.
“I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates!” she wrote to Biden. “It pains me to know that they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for everything you can do right now to get me home.”
Russian authorities claim she was in possession of cannabis-derived vape cartridges. Griner’s representatives did not talk about the technical content of what she would have possessed, and the line between non-psychoactive cannabidiol – better known as CBD, that is popular among athletes as a possible aid in recovery from training – and psychoactive cannabis is not recognized in Russia. CBD is widely recognized as legal in the US and the World Anti-Doping Agency removed it from its banned substances list in 2018.
In her letter, Griner recognized the Fourth of July as a time to celebrate the country’s freedoms.
“On July 4, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War veteran,” Griner said. “It hurts to think about how I usually celebrate this day, because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
She begged Biden to keep working to free her.
“I realize you’re dealing with so much, but don’t forget me and the other American inmates,” she wrote. “Please do everything 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. “
The White House has been steadfast in its position that Griner is being unjustly detained; Officials have said they are working behind the scenes to free her. “The US government continues to work aggressively — by all means available — to bring her home,” National Security Council spokesman Adrienne Watson said in a statement Monday, adding that the government is in “regular contact” with her family.
“National Security Adviser Sullivan has spoken with Brittney’s wife twice in the past two weeks and the White House is working closely with the Presidential Special Envoy on Hostage Affairs, who has met with Brittney’s family, her teammates and her support network,” added Watson. to. †
The situation is certainly complicated by the animosity between the US and Russia. Griner was arrested less than a week before Russia invaded Ukraine and initiated economic sanctions, the withdrawal of Western companies and the shipment of weapons and technology to Ukraine.
On June 28, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to reporters about Griner’s situation aboard Air Force One en route to Madrid, saying the matter “has the president’s full attention.”
“The Russian government must release her and let her return and reunite with her family and come home safe and sound,” he said.
Sullivan said he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Griner’s wife recently and expressed their condolences for what the family was going through.
Griner was photographed in Russian court on Friday. The next session was scheduled for Thursday.
Erick Mendoza contributed†