Appealing to President Joe Biden in a letter delivered through his officials to the White House, Brittney Griner said she feared she would never return home and asked him “not to forget me and the other American inmates.
Updated at 10:57 am
Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said the letter was delivered on Monday. Much of the content of the letter to President Biden remains private, although representatives from Griner shared a few lines from the handwritten note.
“…Sitting here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my spouse, family, friends, my Olympic jersey or any of my accomplishments, I am afraid to be here forever,” Griner wrote.
“On July 4th, our family typically honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father, who is a Vietnam War veteran,” the Phoenix Mercury Center added. It hurts to think how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something very different to me this year. »
The two-time Olympic gold medalist is in the midst of a trial in Russia that began last week after she was arrested on February 17 for possession of cannabis oil as she returned to play for her Russian team. The trial will continue on Thursday.
Less than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike US courts, acquittals can be overturned.
Griner’s wife, Cherelle, said Tuesday morning that she has had no direct communication with President Biden since the letter was delivered to the White House.
“I still haven’t heard from him and to be honest it’s very disheartening,” Cherelle Griner said on CBS Mornings.
The National Security Council (NSC) confirmed that the White House had received Griner’s letter.
“We believe the Russian Federation is wrongly holding Brittney Griner,” NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Monday. President Biden has made it clear that all US citizens held hostage or wrongly imprisoned abroad must be released, including Brittney Griner. The US government continues to work aggressively — by any means available — to bring them home. »
Cherelle Griner clarified that Brittney speaking directly to Biden shows how terrified his wife is about what comes next.
“BG is probably the strongest person I know. So she doesn’t say such words lightly, said Cherelle. That means she’s really scared that she’ll never see us again. And you know I share the same feelings. […] I’m sure she thought, ‘I’m going to write to him now because … my family tried and failed. Then I’ll do it myself.’ »
In the letter, Griner asked Biden to use his powers to secure his return.
“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 enough to do with my freedom that you can help me find it, said Griner. I miss my wife! I miss my family ! I miss my teammates! It’s killing me to know they’re in so much pain right now. I’m grateful for anything you can do now to bring me home. »
Griner was able to communicate sporadically with family, friends, and WNBA players through an email account set up by his agent. The emails are printed out and delivered in packets to Griner by his lawyer after being reviewed by Russian officials.