Britney Griner wrote a handwritten letter to Biden

“(As) I’m 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’m afraid I might be here forever,” she wrote. in a statement released by a communications company representing the Griner family.

Griner, 31, who played in Russia during the WNBA offseason, was arrested on February 17 at the Moscow airport a week before Russia invaded Ukraine. Russian authorities said she had cannabis oil in her luggage and charged her with smuggling large amounts of drugs, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. She is went to court in a Moscow Region court on Friday on charges of drug smuggling.

Griner’s supporters and US officials say she was wrongfully detained and are calling for her release as fears grow that she is being used as a political pawn amid growing tensions between Russia and the US.

Griner’s letter to Biden, according to a statement from the communications company, was delivered to the White House on Monday morning. The statement said that three excerpts from the letter have been made public, while the rest are being kept secret.

“On July 4th, our family usually honors those who fought for our freedom, including my father, a Vietnam War veteran. It pains me to think about how I usually celebrate this day, because on this day freedom means something completely different to me. year,” Griner wrote to Biden.

“I understand that you have so many problems, but please don’t forget about me and other American prisoners. Please do your best to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and voted for you. I believe in I still have so many good things to do with my freedom that you can restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me that they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for everything you can do at this moment to bring me home.”

Biden read the handwritten letter, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.

“We are going to use all possible means to bring Griner home,” she added.

On Monday, the White House confirmed that “the Russian Federation is wrongfully holding Britney Griner.”

“President Biden has made it clear that all US citizens held hostage or illegally detained abroad, including Britney Greener, must be released. The US government continues to actively work, using all available means, to return her home, ”the National Security Council said. This was reported to CNN by press secretary Adrienne Watson.

“The president’s team is in constant contact with Britney’s family, and we will continue to work to support her family,” Watson said, adding that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken “have spoken to Britney’s wife several times in recent weeks. and the White House is coordinating closely with the President’s Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, who has met with Britney’s family, her teammates, and her support network.”

Griner’s wife, Sherel, told CNN Last week, she wants US officials to do whatever it takes to bring the basketball legend home, and she needs them to do more.
Dozens of Organizations Sign Letter Calling on President Biden to Make a Deal to Release Britney Greener

In the only interview she gave on the eve of her wife’s trial in Russia, Sherel Griner sat in the Phoenix Mercury dressing room and called for further action.

“It’s really very difficult. This is not a situation where rhetoric matches action,” she said. “Unfortunately, I have to push people to make sure that what they tell me is also in line with their actions, and that’s why it was the hardest thing to balance because I can’t give up. It’s been over 130 days and BG hasn’t returned yet. . “

US House of Representatives last month adopted a bipartisan resolution urging the Russian government to immediately release the WNBA star.

“Not a day goes by that we don’t think of Britney and work to bring her home,” a Democratic spokesman said. This is stated in a statement by Greg Stanton from Arizona, who sponsored the resolution. “We will continue to seek her release and ensure that she is not forgotten.”

Stanton was previously mayor of Phoenix, where Griner plays for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA.

Stanton introduced the resolution in May along with representatives of the Democratic Party. Sheila Jackson Lee and Colin Allred from Griner’s home state of Texas.

“I am grateful to Congress for this overwhelming show of support. We must do everything we can to keep Britney’s case in the spotlight and finally put an end to this nightmare,” Cherell Griner said in a statement.

Vanessa Nygaard, Phoenix Mercury’s first-year head coach, reacted to Griner’s letter on Monday during a press conference in Los Angeles ahead of her team’s game against the Sparks.

“You know, I cried just hearing her say that her father was a Vietnam War veteran, her new perspective on freedom, her desire to be with her family and teammates, her not knowing if she would ever be free again. . On our day of freedom to hear these words from such a loved one… It’s great and it’s great that she was able to get that message across to us and hopefully some people are paying attention and of course the Biden administration. and our State Department would put that at the top of their messages and that would be amazing to us,” Nygaard said.

Mercury announced last week that a special public rally in support of Griner will be held at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on Wednesday. The event is being held in coordination with Stanton’s office and Sherel Griner will make a presentation.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Brittney Griner’s name.

This story was supplemented by the White House’s response on Tuesday.

CNN’s Abby Phillip, Steve Almasi, Homero De la Fuente, Rachel Gianfaza, Kevin Liptak, Megan Vasquez, and Jill Martin contributed to this report.