In The Know

Brittney Griner to Biden: ‘I’m terrified I might be here forever’

FILE – Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner sits during the first half of Game 2 of basketball’s WNBA Finals against the Chicago Sky, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Phoenix. Griner is easily the most prominent American citizen known to be jailed by a foreign government. Yet as a crucial hearing approaches next month, the case against her remains shrouded in mystery, with little clarity from the Russian prosecutors. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been held in Russia since February, urged President Biden in a letter delivered to the White House on Monday not to forget about her and other Americans detained abroad.

“…[A]s 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 to Biden in excerpts of the letter shared by Wasserman, a talent agency that includes her management team. 

Griner, who has been detained in Russia for more than four months over allegations that hashish oil was found in her luggage, said she missed her family and teammates. 

Her trial began on Friday.

“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. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore,” she wrote. 

“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.” 

Griner’s team, the Phoenix Mercury, and her wife have called on the United States to do more to get her out of Russia. The State Department in early May said it considered her status in Russia as wrongfully detained, and Biden officials have called her release a “top priority.”

“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,” Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said in a statement on Monday. “The U.S. government continues to work aggressively — using every available means — to bring her home.”

“The President’s team is in regular contact with Brittney’s family and we will continue to work to support her family. National Security Advisor Sullivan and Secretary Blinken have spoken several times with Brittney’s wife in recent weeks and 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,” Watson added. 

Griner’s detainment also came amid the backdrop of Russia’s ongoing invasion in Ukraine, which has soured relations between Moscow and much of the world. 

—Updated at 7:05 p.m.

Tags Biden Brittney Griner Russia Ukraine
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