Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Wiki Commons
Having already been detained for four months in Russia, US basketball star Brittney Griner has written to President Joe Biden in a plea to help her release.
In the letter, which Government officials have confirmed they have received according to BBC reports, Griner admits that she fears she may never return home to the US.
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Griner, 31, is currently on trial for drug charges and, if convicted, could face up to ten years in prison after being arrested at Moscow airport after authorities allegedly found cannabis oil in her luggage.
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, shared snippets of the hand-written letter with the Associated Press.
“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 writes.
“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,” the Phoenix Mercury player continues. “It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
“I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore,” she writes to Biden, declaring she desperately misses her wife, family and teammates.
With US officials indicating the strained US-Russian relationship, amid the war in Ukraine, may jeopardise her safe return, Colas notes that they don’t want Griner to become a political pawn.
Since her arrest on 17 February, Griner has only had “sporadic written communication” with her family, a fact Colas labels as “inhumane”.
Cherelle Griner, Griner’s wife, told CBS News that the basketball player is “the strongest person” she knows and that she is terrified she may never see her wife again.
Brittney Griner’s wife Cherelle says it is “very disheartening” that she still has not heard back from the White House — after Brittney penned a handwritten letter to Pres. Biden from a Russian prison pleading for help. pic.twitter.com/MTyQqCJIBj— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) July 5, 2022
Cherelle continued to detail that it has been "very disheartening" that she has not heard from Biden directly.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said they believe that the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner.
“President Biden has been clear about the need to see all U.S. nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner,” Watson noted. “The U.S. government continues to work aggressively – using every available means – to bring her home.”
Griner’s trial will resume on 7 July.