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Brittney Griner implores Joe Biden to help free her from ‘terrifying’ Russian prison

Maggie Baska July 5, 2022
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Brittney Griner wears a white t-shirt as she is handcuffed to another a person and led to a trial hearing in Russia

Brittney Griner has pleaded for help from president Joe Biden as she has been detained for over four months on what Russian authorities claim are drug charges. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty)

Brittney Griner has implored president Joe Biden for help, admitting she’s “terrified” she may be trapped in Russia “forever”.

The Olympic gold medal winner and WNBA All-Star has been detained in Russia since 17 February, and is currently on trial for drugs charges. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, confirmed that a letter from the basketball star was delivered to Biden on Monday (4 July). Much of the letter has remained private, but Colas shared parts with the Associated Press

“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. 

She continued: “On the 4th of July, our family normally honours the service of those who fought of our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War veteran. 

“It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”

She pleaded with Biden to do all he can to ensure her safe return home, saying she ‘believes’ in him. 

“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!”

Brittney Griner said it “kills” her to know that her loved ones are “suffering so much right now”, and said she is “grateful” for whatever Biden can do “at this moment” to get her home.

Brittney Griner wears a white t-shirt with black letter as she walks down the stairs in handcuffs to a trial hearing in Russia
Brittney Griner said in a letter to president Joe Biden that she has “so much good to do” with her “freedom”, which she believed he can “help restore”. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty)

The White House National Security Council (NSC) confirmed that the president had received Griner’s letter, and that the administration believes the “Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner”. 

“President Biden has been clear about the need to see all US nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner,” NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said. “The US government continues to work aggressively – using every means – to bring her home.”

Brittney Griner has not been able to hear her loved ones’ voices since her arrest, but she has received “sporadic written communication”. Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said it was “inhumane” for the basketball superstar to go for so long without “real time, regular contact” with her wife and other loved ones.

Colas added it was “clear” that Griner is “being used as a political pawn” and said Biden must “do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home quickly and safely”. 

Griner has been held in Russia for over four months since her arrest at a Moscow airport after authorities allegedly found oil derived from cannabis in vape cartridges in her luggage, and her detainment has been extended multiple times

Her trial is set to resume on Thursday (7 July). Legal experts have warned that fewer than one per cent of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted.

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