Jul 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden tells Cherelle Griner he's working to secure Brittney Griner's release

Fans hold signs supporting Brittney Griner.
WNBA fans show support for Brittney Griner. Photo: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

President Biden plans to send WNBA star Brittney Griner a letter and is working to secure her release, he told Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, in a phone call Wednesday.

Why it matters: Brittney Griner previously wrote a letter to President Biden asking him to help her and other American detainees in Russia. Biden read Cherelle Griner the letter he plans to send to Brittney, the White House said.

Driving the news: According to the White House, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner about how the Biden administration is working to free Griner, Paul Whelan and other detained U.S. nationals.

  • Biden told his national security team to remain in contact with Cherelle Griner and their family.

Yes, but: Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan, criticized Biden for not speaking to her family about her brother, who has been detained in Russia for more than three years.

  • "If he wants to talk about securing Paul's release, he needs to be talking to the Whelans!" she tweeted. "What are we to think?!," she tweeted on Wednesday.

Catch up quick: Cherelle Griner told "CBS Mornings" on Tuesday that the government needs to do more to help Brittney Griner and that she had not heard from Biden at that point.

  • Brittney Griner likely wrote to the president “because of the failed attempts that we have had as a family," she said.

The big picture: There have been calls for the government to do more to help Griner.

  • Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi told Axios in an interview that the U.S. government must do "everything and anything possible to get 'BG' home as quick as possible."
  • Dozens of organizations — including the NAACP and GLAAD — have signed a letter calling on Biden to strike a deal for Griner's release, CNN reports.
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