Brittney Griner wrote to President Joe Biden, expressing concern that she may never return home. She also asked for his help in writing a letter to him through her representatives.
Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner's agent, said that the letter was sent on Monday. Although most of the contents of the letter to President Biden are private, Griner's representatives did share a few lines from the handwritten note.
aEUR3... As a Russian prison inmate, alone with my thoughts, and without the protection or my family, friends, or any achievements, I am terrified that I might be here forever," Griner wrote.
The Phoenix Mercury center said that on the Fourth of July, the family honors those who have fought for freedom. It hurts to think about how I celebrate this day, because freedom is something entirely different for me this year.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist is currently undergoing a Russian trial. It began last week after she was charged with possessing marijuana oil and returning to Russian play for her Russian team. The trial will continue Thursday.
Only 1% of Russian criminal defendants are acquitted. And unlike U.S. courts where acquittals cannot be overturned, in Russia, less than 1% are.
The White House National Security Council confirmed that Griner's letter has been received by the White House.
Adrienne Watson, NSC spokeswoman, stated that Brittney Griner is being wrongfully held by the Russian Federation. "President Biden has made it clear that all U.S. citizens wrongfully held abroad or hostage should be released. This includes Brittney Griner. The U.S. government continues its aggressive aEUR" use of every available means to bring Brittney Griner home.
Griner asked Biden to use his power to secure her return in the letter.
"Please do everything you can to help us return home. I voted in 2020 for the first time and voted for you. I believe in you. Griner stated, "I still have so many good things to do with my liberty that you can help restore." Griner added, "I miss my wife! I miss my family! My teammates are my family! It hurts me to see how they are feeling right now. "I am grateful to you for doing whatever you can to help me get home."
Griner was able to communicate with her family, friends, and WNBA players via an email account that her agent set up. After being vetted by Russian officials, Griner's lawyer prints the emails and delivers them in large quantities to Griner. After Griner's responses are scanned by the lawyers, they return to their offices to scan them and forward them to the U.S. for further processing.
Biden administration officials said that she was supposed to make a call to her wife on their anniversary. However, it didn't work out because of an "unfortunate error".
Griner's supporters encourage a prisoner exchange like the one that brought back Marine veteran Trevor Reed in return for a Russian pilot who was convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy. In May, the State Department declared her wrongfully detained and placed her under the watchful eye of its special presidential ambassador for hostage affairs. This effectively made her the chief hostage negotiator of the government.
Griner is not the only American wrongfully held in Russia. Paul Whelan is a former Marine security director and is currently serving a 16 year sentence for espionage.