WNBA star Brittney Griner wrote a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to do what he can to get her released from a Russian jail. Griner has been detained since February on charges of possession of cannabis-derived vape cartridges.
Griner pleaded guilty in court to the charges and could possibly face up to 10 years in a Russian prison. Fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted and unlike here in the United States where an acquittal can be overturned.
The White House has been under pressure by supporters to aggressively find a solution on getting Griner home. White House staff did confirm President Biden and Vice President Harris read Griner’s letter and had a phone conversation with Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife. Biden also read Cherelle Griner a draft of the letter he is sending to Brittney Griner on Wednesday, the White House said.
“The President offered his support to Cherelle and Brittney’s family, and he committed to ensuring they are provided with all possible assistance while his administration pursues every avenue to bring Brittney home,” the White House said.
Griner’s representatives shared a few excerpts from her letter to the president.
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote.
“On the 4th of July, our family normally 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 thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
Cherelle Griner shared on Instagram that she is grateful for the work the Biden Administration is doing. Cherelle asks for continued prayers for her family and the families of wrongfully detained Americans like Brittney around the world. Another American, Paul Whelan, a former Marine and security director is serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction in Russia.
In April the United States executed a prisoner exchange with Russia for Marine veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy.