“The president called Cherelle to reassure her that he is working to secure the release of Brittney as soon as possible, as well as the release of Paul Whelan and other US citizens who are wrongfully held or held hostage in Russia and around the world. said White. said House.
In a letter delivered to Biden on Monday, Brittney Griner, 31, expressed fear of not knowing how long she will be detained and urged the president to work for her release and those of other Americans living in the United States. are held abroad.
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or other achievements, I am terrified that I will be here forever,” she wrote.
According to the White House, on Wednesday’s appeal, Biden “offered his support to Cherelle and Brittney’s families, and pledged to ensure they receive all possible assistance while his administration is doing everything it can to bring Brittney home.”
“Today’s call follows recent calls by the National Security Adviser [Jake] Sullivan and Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken has been talking to Cherelle over the past few weeks and over the weekend,” the White House said, adding that Biden had instructed his national security team to maintain regular contact with Brittney Griner’s family.
Prominent black women urge Biden to ‘make a deal’ for Brittney Griner
Cherelle Griner later posted an Instagram statement about her conversation with Biden and Harris.
“I am grateful to them both for the time they spent with me and for the dedication they showed to get BG home,” she wrote. “While I will remain concerned and forthright until she returns home, I am hopeful that the president read my wife’s letter and took the time to respond. I know BG will find comfort in the knowledge that she is not forgotten.”
Nearly 1,200 prominent black women signed a letter to Biden and Harris urging the government to release Brittney Griner from a Russian prison, an escalation of a pressure campaign by the supporters of the WNBA star who comes as her trial progresses. in a court outside Moscow.
The letter, delivered to the White House on Tuesday afternoon, was signed by a collection of black women leaders from the worlds of sports, entertainment, labor, business, politics and faith. It claimed Griner “endures inhumane conditions” during her imprisonment, saying: “It is imperative, President Biden, that you address this ongoing human rights crisis and make a deal to get Brittney home quickly and safely.”
Griner, 31, was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow in February when customs officials allegedly discovered vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage. At that point, she returned to the country to join UMMC Ekaterinburg, the Russian team she plays for during the WNBA offseason. In early May, the State Department declared Griner’s case a “wrongful detention,” an official classification that elevated it to the office of the US’s special presidential envoy for hostage-taking.
Her trial began Friday and is expected to continue on Thursday; Griner hasn’t made a plea yet. She is expected to be found guilty – an estimated 99 percent of Russian criminal trials end in convictions – and face up to 10 years in prison.
Jake Lourim contributed to this report.