Brittney Griner to Biden: “I’m terrified that I could stay here forever.”

Britney GrinerWNBA star who was detained in Russia on charges of drug possession since February sent a handwritten letter to President Biden on Monday asking him not to forget her.

“Sitting here in a Russian prison alone with my thoughts and without the protection of a wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any accomplishments, I’m afraid I might stay here forever,” Griner said in an excerpt from a letter shared by her representatives.

She continued, “I understand that you are dealing with so many problems, but please don’t forget about me and other American prisoners. Please do your best to bring us home.”

A White House press secretary did not say whether the president had received the letter, but did provide a statement from National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson.

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 work aggressively – using all available means – to bring her home, ”Watson said.

She added that “the president’s team is in constant contact with the Britney family.”

Griner, 31, was detained on February 3. January 17, after she was accused of having hashish in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. She was in Russia to play with UMMC Yekaterinburg, a professional women’s basketball team for which she played during several WNBA off-seasons. She has played for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA since 2013 when the team selected her No. 1. 1 overall pick and she won two Olympic gold medals with the US women’s basketball team.

Griner faces up to 10 years in a strict regime colony if found guilty of drug possession in Russia. Her trial started on Fridayand legal experts said she likely to be found guilty. But not necessarily on the merits.

“There is a bias mainly because the Russian judiciary says they really shouldn’t go to court unless the defendant is convicted,” William Pomerantz, acting director of the Kennan Institute and an expert on Russian law, told The New York Times recently. “There is no real idea or expectation that the defendant can be innocent. In fact, there is no presumption of innocence.”

Greener did not respond to the allegations. In May, the US State Department determined that she was “illegally detained“Though he didn’t say how or why he came to that conclusion. The determination meant that the government officials dealing with the hostages would work towards her release. over 40 Americans say they have been illegally detained around the world Earlier this year.

In her letter to Biden, Griner mentioned the Fourth of July. “It pains me to think about how I usually celebrate this day, because this year freedom means something completely different to me,” she said, adding that she voted in the 2020 presidential election for the first time – and chose Biden.

Griner’s wife, Sherel Griner, publicly called on Biden to help free her wife. Last month, Lindsey Kagawa Colas, Agent Greener, approved letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris from dozens of women’s and human rights organizations. The letter stated that Griner was being subjected to “inhuman treatment”.

“Now we urge you to make a deal so that Britney will return home to America immediately and safely,” the letter reads.

In April, the US and Russia exchanged prisoners. released by Trevor R. Reed, a former US Marine who was held for over two years on charges of assault. In return, the US released Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2011 for cocaine trafficking.

US officials did not say whether they would consider a prisoner exchange for Griner’s release.

Long-standing tensions between the United States and Russia and the ongoing war in Ukraine have complicated Griner’s situation, but government officials have said her release is a priority.

Michael D. Shire made a report.