Brittney Griner Writes to President Biden Pleading for Help

Brittney Griner has made an appeal to President Joe Biden in a letter passed to the White House through her representatives saying she feared she might never return home and asking that he not “forget about me and the other American Detainees.”

Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said the letter was delivered on Monday. Most of the letter’s contents to President Biden remain private, though Griner’s representatives shared a few lines from the hand-written note.

“…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.”

Two-time Olympic gold medalist, the two-time Olympic gold winner is currently undergoing a Russian trial. It began last week following her arrest on February 17th on suspicion of possessing marijuana oil and returning to Russian play. The trial is set to resume on Thursday.

Learn more What to Know About WNBA Star Brittney Griner’s Detention in Russia

Only 1% of Russian criminal defendants are acquitted. And unlike U.S. courts where acquittals cannot be reversed, in Russia, less than 1% of them are.

The White House National Security Council confirmed the White House has received Griner’s letter.

“We believe the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner,” NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said on Monday. “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.”

Griner begged Biden in the letters to exercise his powers and ensure Griner’s return.

“Please do all you can to bring us home. In 2020, I voted my first time and voted in your favor. You are my hero. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore,” Griner said “I miss my wife! I miss my family! My teammates are my family! It hurts to think of how much they’re suffering right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”

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Griner was able to communicate with her family and friends occasionally through the email account that her agent created. After being vetted and printed, Griner’s lawyer will deliver the emails in large quantities to Griner. Once the lawyers get back to their office, they’ll scan any responses from Griner and pass them back to the U.S. to send along.

She was supposed to have a phone call with her wife on their anniversary but it failed because of an “unfortunate mistake,” Biden administration officials.

Griner’s supporters have encouraged a prisoner swap like the one in April that brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy. The State Department in May designated her as wrongfully detained, moving her case under the supervision of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.

Griner isn’t the only American being wrongfully detained in Russia. Paul Whelan is a former Marine security director and was convicted of espionage. He currently serves a 16 year sentence.

—Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

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