“I’m afraid that I might be here forever,” Griner said in a handwritten letter to Biden that she wrote from a Russian prison.
WASHINGTON — Brittney Griner, in a letter sent to the White House through her officials, made an appeal to President Joe Biden, saying she feared she might never return home and asking him to “take me and them not to forget other American prisoners”.
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said the letter was delivered on Monday. Most of the contents of the letter to President Biden remain private, although Griner’s reps shared a few lines from the handwritten note.
“…Sitting here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any accomplishments, I fear that I may 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 completely different to me this year.”
The two-time Olympic gold medalist is in the midst of a court case in Russia that began last week after she was arrested on February 17 on charges of possessing cannabis oil while returning 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.
In the letter, Griner asked Biden to use his powers to ensure their 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 have so much good left to do with my freedom that you can help restore it,” Griner said. “I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It is killing me to know that you are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for anything you can do in this moment to bring me home.”
Griner was able to communicate sporadically with family, friends, and WNBA players through an email account set up by her agent. The emails are printed out and bundled and delivered to Griner by her lawyer after being reviewed by Russian officials. Once the attorneys return to their office, they scan all of Griner’s replies and return them to the US for distribution.
She was supposed to call her wife on their anniversary, but it fell through an “unfortunate mistake,” according to the Biden administration.
Griner’s supporters have sponsored a prisoner swap like the one in April that brought home Navy veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy. The State Department in May declared her unjustly detained and placed her case under the oversight of the President’s special envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.
Griner is not the only American unjustly being held in Russia. Paul Whelan, a former Director of Navy and Security, is serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/brittney-griner-sends-letter-to-president-biden/507-39353950-2e5a-4321-9ecb-181e8e02d66c Brittney Griner tells Biden she fears she may never leave Russia