Brittany Griner, the WNBA star detained in Russia, appealed to President Joe Biden asking him not to forget about me, saying she was worried she “could be here forever.”
“While sitting here in a Russian prison, alone with my mind and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any achievements, I am afraid I may be here forever,” said Griner (31 ) wrote in the letter, extracts of which were released by her agent. “On the 4th of July, our family usually 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 detained in February after Russian authorities said they found marijuana oil in her luggage while returning to the country to play for her Russian team. . Her trial began last week, and she faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
The White House confirmed to The Associated Press that they had received Griner’s letter, adding that the US believed that Russia had “detained her”. The whole of the letter is kept private.
“President Biden was clear about the need to see all U.S. citizens held hostage or illegally detained abroad, including Brittney Griner,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told the Associated Press. “The U.S. government continues to work aggressively – by all available means – to bring her home.”
The outlet added that less than 1% of the accused in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and those acquittals can be reversed. Legal experts told The New York Times she was likely to be convicted, and her supporters urged the White House to arrange a prisoner exchange with the Kremlin.
The U.S. and Russia did so in April and swapped Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine on charges of assault, with a Russian pilot who was sentenced in the U.S. to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking.
“I realize you’re dealing with so much, but please do not forget about me and the other American prisoners,” Griner wrote to Biden. “Please do everything you can to bring us home.”
Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard addressed the letter Monday during a pre-match news conference.
“It made me cry, you know, just when I heard her words talking about her father being a Vietnam vet, her new perspective on freedom, that she wanted to be with her family and her teammates, that she did not know if she will never be free again, “said Nygaard, reports The Guardian.