In a handwritten letter to President Joe Biden, WNBA star Brittney Griner begged him not to forget about her and other American inmates, expressing her worry that she will be held indefinitely in Russia.
According to a statement made public by the communications firm defending the Griner family, she said, “(As) I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the safety of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m frightened I might stay here forever.”
A week before Russia invaded Ukraine, Griner, 31, who had been playing in Russia during the WNBA’s winter, was detained on February 17 at a Moscow airport. She was suspected of smuggling considerable amounts of a narcotic drug, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, by Russian officials who said she had cannabis oil in her luggage. She was put on trial for narcotics smuggling on Friday in a courthouse close to Moscow.
In light of growing concerns that Griner is being exploited as a political pawn amid escalating tensions between the US and Russia, Griner’s supporters and US officials claim that she was illegally kidnapped and have urged for her release.
Brittney Griner handwritten letter to Biden
According to a statement from the communications firm, Griner’s letter to Biden was sent to the White House on Monday morning. According to the statement, only three passages from the letter have been made public.
“Our family typically remembers the sacrifices made by those who fought for our freedom on July 4th, especially my father, a Vietnam War veteran. Because freedom means something entirely different to me this year than it did last year, it hurts to think about how I used to celebrate this day “Griner sent Biden a letter.
“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. 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. 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.”
Biden has read the handwritten letter, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.
“We are going to use every tool that we possibly can” to bring Griner home, she added.
The White House reiterated Monday that “the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner.”
“President Biden has been clear about the need to see all U.S. nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner. The U.S. government continues to work aggressively — using every available means — to bring her home,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement to CNN.
“The President’s team is in regular contact with Brittney’s family and we will continue to work to support her family,” Watson said, adding that national security adviser 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.”
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