Brittney Griner appeals to Biden to leave the White House in a letter from Russia

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WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been jailed in Russia since February on drug-related charges, wrote a letter to President Biden that was delivered at the White House Monday morning, her sports agency said.

In the letter, Griner, 31, expressed her concern at not knowing how long she will be imprisoned and urged Biden to work for her release and that of other Americans imprisoned abroad.

“Sitting here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any accomplishments, I fear that I may be here forever,” Griner wrote in an excerpt the letter from Wasserman, a talent agency representing the basketball star.

“I realize you are involved in so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American prisoners,” she added. “Please do everything 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 it. 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 anything you can do at this moment to bring me home.”

Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and the Griner family were unavailable for further comment, Wasserman said.

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Asked for comment on the letter, Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told the Washington Post: “[Biden’s] The team is in regular contact with Brittney’s family and we will continue to work to support her family.”

Watson said that Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have spoken to Cherelle Griner several times in recent weeks and that the White House has been in close coordination with the envoy for hostage affairs, who has met with Griner’s family and Phoenix teammates Mercury.

“We believe the Russian Federation is wrong in holding Brittney Griner,” Watson said. “President Biden has made it clear that all US citizens who are being held hostage or wrongly imprisoned abroad must be released, including Brittney Griner. The U.S. government continues to work aggressively — by any means available — to bring them home.”

In her letter, the eight-time WNBA All-Star and 2016 Olympic champion referenced her father’s military service and said Independence Day doesn’t feel like it anymore.

“On July 4th, our family typically honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father, who is a Vietnam War veteran,” Griner wrote. “It hurts to think how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something very different to me this year.”

Griner, who was arrested on February 17 and accused of transporting vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, could face 10 years in prison if convicted.

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She appeared at a court hearing on Friday and said she understood the charges but had not entered a plea before the court adjourned until Thursday to hear more evidence. Griner is scheduled to remain incarcerated until December pending the verdict of the trial, which experts believe will almost certainly come back guilty.

US Executive Secretary Elizabeth Rood attended Friday’s hearing and said the United States was working “at the highest level” to bring Griner home.

“We care deeply about this case and about the well-being of Ms. Griner, as do so many Americans and as we do about all US citizens who are trapped abroad,” Rood said in a statement on Friday. “We were able to speak to Ms. Griner in the courtroom today. She is doing as well as can be expected in these difficult circumstances.”

Matt Viser contributed to this report.

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