Brittney Griner sent a handwritten letter to President Biden on Monday pleading for help according to family members. Griner, a basketball superstar, has been detained in Russia since February.
Griner was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow after arriving from New York. Russian officials claimed she had vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage, a charge that could carry up to 10 years in prison.
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, confirmed to news outlets that the letter was delivered to the president on Monday, July 4. Most of the letter remains private, but Colas shared snippets of Griner’s missive.
“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 to Biden. “On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for 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 continued, “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. 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.”
The trial officially started last week with a hearing where prosecutors detailed the case against the basketball star. The first hearing featured testimony from two witnesses, including an employee of the Sheremetyevo airport customs services where Griner was detained after cannabis oil was discovered in her backpack. Griner is expected back in court for a second hearing on July 7.
President Joe Biden said bringing home Brittney Griner is a top priority, the White House said Tuesday, adding the president has read a letter from the basketball player that was delivered on Monday.
“He takes this to heart,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “He takes this job very seriously, especially when it comes to bringing home U.S. nationals who are wrongfully detained.”