Brittney Griner, the WNBA star detained in Russia, sent a plea to President Joe Biden asking him not to ‘forget me’, saying she feared she ‘would be here forever’.
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, my family, my friends, my Olympic jersey or any achievement, I am terrified of be here forever,” Griner, 31, wrote in the letter, excerpts of which were released by his agent. “On July 4, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War veteran. It hurts to think about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and center for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested in February after Russian authorities said they found cannabis oil in her luggage as she returned to the country to play for her team. Russian. Her trial began last week and she faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
The White House confirmed to The Associated Press that it had received Griner’s letter, adding that the United States believed Russia was “wrongfully detaining” it. The entire letter remains confidential.
“President Biden has been clear on the need to see all U.S. nationals held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas released, including Brittney Griner,” Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the Council of Justice, told AP. national security. “The US government continues to work aggressively — using every means available — to bring her home. »
The outlet added that less than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and those acquittals can be overturned. Legal experts told the New York Times she would likely be found guilty, and her supporters urged the White House to arrange a prisoner swap with the Kremlin.
The United States and Russia did so in April, swapping Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine detained for assault, with a Russian pilot sentenced to 20 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking.
“I realize you have so much to do, but please don’t forget me and the other American inmates,” Griner wrote to Biden. “Please do everything you can to get us home. »
Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard delivered the letter Monday at a pre-game press conference.
“It brought me to tears, you know, just hearing her words about her father as a Vietnam veteran, her new perspective on freedom, her desire to be with her family and her teammates, she doesn’t know if she will ever be free again,” Nygaard said, The Guardian reported.