Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who has been detained in Russia on drug charges since February 17, begged President Joe Biden not to forget her and other American detainees around the world.
“I’m terrified I might be here forever,” she wrote in the letter, which was delivered to the White House on Monday, July 4. Three excerpts from the letter were included in a statement shared with CNN from the communications company representing her family.
“[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, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, wrote.
“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,” Griner wrote.
“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. 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,” she said in her letter.
Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport and Russian authorities have claimed she had cannabis-derived vape cartridges in her luggage. In her trial, which began Friday and will resume this Thursday, she faces up to 10 years in prison. Cannabis remains illegal in Russia, despite it having been legalized in parts of the U.S.
Her wife, Cherelle Griner told CNN last week that she wants the U.S. government to do more to bring Brittney home.
In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton of Arizona, calling on the Russian government to release the athlete immediately.
“Not a day goes by that we aren’t thinking of Brittney and working to get her home,” Stanton said in a statement at the time. “We will continue to push for her release and make sure that she is not forgotten.”
Cherelle Griner thanked Congress for its “overwhelming show of support,” but added, “We need to be doing all we can to keep Brittney’s case on the forefront and finally put an end to this nightmare.
In March, Texas congressman Joaquin Castro demanded that Russia return the WNBA star.
“This follows a pattern of Russia wrongly detaining and imprisoning US citizens,” he tweeted. ” … US citizens are not political pawns.”