The release of Brittney Griner, who has been jailed in Russia since February on drug smuggling charges, is a “priority” for Joe Biden, his spokesman assured on Tuesday, hinting rather tersely that the president had read the American basketball star’s letter.
• Also read: The trial of US basketball player Griner has been adjourned until July 7
• Also read: US basketball player Griner, jailed in Russia, will appear in court in July
“The President read the letter,” Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday during his daily news briefing, without adding painful undertones to Joe Biden’s response to the letter.
“This issue is a priority for the President,” and he is “doing everything he can,” the White House spokesman said.
The Phoenix Mercury player was arrested in February when she arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in possession of vaporizers and a cannabis-based liquid, according to prosecutors.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist with USA (2016-2020) came to Russia to play in the American off-season, a common practice for basketball players who sometimes earn more abroad than they do at home.
She appeared in court near Moscow on July 1 for her trial, which was eventually adjourned to Thursday July 7.
The case is politically very sensitive at a time when relations between the United States and Russia are at their worst over the invasion of Ukraine.
“Sitting here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, my family, my friends, my Olympic jersey or anything I’ve accomplished, I dread the thought of ‘closed here forever be’, wrote the two-time Olympic basketball champion.
“I know very well that you have many things to face, but please don’t forget us, me and the other American prisoners,” the Mercury of Phoenix player pleads in the letter, which was symbolically deposited at the White House on Monday. United States Independence Day.
However, Karine Jean-Pierre gave no more specific indications as to what the American government is doing, only stressing that several high-ranking officials have been in regular contact with the champion’s family and in particular with his wife Cherelle Griner.
“We want to end this practice, whether in Russia or in any other country, of unlawfully detaining Americans or foreign nationals for political reasons,” ministry spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday.
When asked about criticism from Brittney Griner’s family or teammates who believe the mobilization should be stronger, he assured that the Biden administration would not do or say anything that could jeopardize the chances of a release.
“Of course we understand the desire of families to draw as much attention to their belongings as possible,” says Ned Price.
Brittney Griner’s teammates lamented the lack of attention, particularly from the media.
“The outrage isn’t strong enough,” Brianna Turner said on the sidelines of a game against the Los Angeles Sparks.
“If it was LeBron James or Tom Brady, it would make headlines every day,” said Sophie Cunningham, another player.