Jul 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

"I’m terrified I might be here forever": Brittney Griner in letter to Biden

Brittney Griner (C) arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on July 1
Brittney Griner arrives the Khimki Court, outside Moscow, for a hearing on July 1. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

WNBA star Brittney Griner appealed to President Biden to help her and other American detainees in Russia in a handwritten letter that was delivered to the White House on Monday morning.

Driving the news: Griner has been detained in Russia since February after authorities claimed that they found vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage.

  • Griner, who the U.S. says has been wrongfully detained, went on trial last Friday on drug charges that carry up to 10 years in prison.

What they're saying: “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 in the letter, parts of which were shared by her talent agency, Wasserman.

  • “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home,” she wrote.
  • “I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates!"
  • "It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”

State of play: “We believe the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner," National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told Axios in a statement.

  • "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," Watson added.
  • Biden's team is in "regular contact" with Griner's family, while national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have spoken with Griner's wife several times over the past few weeks, Watson noted.
  • "The White House is closely coordinating with the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, who has met with Brittney’s family, her teammates, and her support network.”

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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