On Wednesday, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Sherel Griner, wife of the WNBA star. Britney GrinerThis is stated in a statement released by the White House. Britney Griner was detained in Russia on drug charges since February.
During the call, Biden read a draft of a letter he planned to send to Britney Griner.
“The President has offered his support to the Cherell and Britney family, and he is determined to provide them with all possible assistance as his administration uses every opportunity to bring Britney home,” the statement said.
Brittney Griner has been in Russian custody since February. A 17-year-old woman accused by Russian authorities of possessing a vape cartridge filled with hash oil at an airport near Moscow. Her trial started on Friday. On Monday, Brittney Griner sent a letter to Biden begging him for help.
“I’m afraid I might stay here forever,” Griner said in an excerpt from a letter shared by her reps. 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.”
The US government has classified Griner as “illegally detained“And he is working to get her released, regardless of the outcome of the trial.
A White House statement Wednesday described Britney Griner as “wrongfully detained in Russia under unbearable circumstances.”
It also says that Biden instructed his homeland security team to maintain “regular contact” with the Cherell Griner and Britney Griner family. Sherel Griner has publicly expressed dissatisfaction with Biden and his administration’s efforts to free her wife.
On Tuesday, Sherel Griner appeared on CBS Mornings and spoke of her disappointment that Britney Griner’s family did not receive a response from the President to Britney Griner’s letter.
“I will no longer be silent,” Sherel Griner said. “My wife is struggling and we have to help her.”
Women could communicate with each other only through letters. In June Sherel Griner told the Associated Press that the planned conversation with Britney Griner never took place due to a shortage of staff at the US Embassy in Moscow. She said she had not spoken to her wife since the day Britney Griner was detained.
Experts said that the trial of Britney Griner is likely to end in a guilty verdict. She faces up to 10 years in a strict regime colony if found guilty.
“There is a bias mainly because the Russian judiciary says they really shouldn’t go to trial unless the defendant is convicted,” said William Pomeranz, acting director of the Kennan Institute and an expert on Russian law. “There is no real idea or expectation that the defendant can be innocent. In fact, there is no presumption of innocence.”
One way to secure the release of an American detained abroad is through a prisoner exchange. Trevor Reed, a former US Marine who has since been imprisoned in Russia on charges of assault. August 2019was released as a result of a prisoner exchange in April. Reid was sentenced to nine years in prison July 2020.
Griner has played for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury since the franchise selected her first overall in 2013. She won the WNBA championship in 2014 and won two gold medals with the USA Women’s National Basketball Team.
She was in Russia because she played for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a team known as one of the highest paid women’s basketball teams in the world.