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'I'm Terrified': WNBA Star Brittney Griner Writes To Joe Biden From Russian Prison
Invoking the Fourth of July, imprisoned WNBC star Brittney Griner asked President Joe Biden for help getting out of a Russian detention center, where she faces trumped-up drug charges.
WNBA star Brittney Griner is pleading with President Joe Biden to help get her out of a Russian detention center.
“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,” she wrote in a handwritten letter, according to NBC News.
The letter was delivered to the White House on Monday. Biden and the White House have yet to comment on the letter or its contents.
Griner, 31, has been ordered to stand trial by a court near Moscow on cannabis possession. Russian officials claim she had cannabis-derived vape cartridges on her when she was arrested in February — shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine — at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport while returning to play basketball for a Russian team that employed her.
The two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist was also ordered to remain in custody for the duration of her criminal trial. She could face up to a decade behind bars if convicted.
“I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates!” she wrote in her letter to Biden. “It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”
She also mentioned the Fourth of July and the meaning of freedom.
"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," Griner said. "It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year."
Griner’s wife Cherelle has previously urged President Joe Biden to help her.
While Griner plays for a Russian team during the WNBA's offseason, she is most known for being a center for the Phoenix Mercury WNBA team.
Less than one percent of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, according to the Associated Press. Acquittals can also be overturned in Russia, unlike in the United States.
Griner's detention is widely assumed to be a diplomatic effort by the Russian state to pressure the United States into a prisoner exchange. The New York Times recently reported that Russia is specifically looking to secure the release of Russian arms dealer Victor "Merchant of Death" Bout. Bout is currently serving a 25-year sentence for his 2011 conviction of conspiring to sell arms — including explosives and surface-to-air missiles — to the Colombian narcoterrorist group FARC in order to allow them to target American-manned helicopters and troops in the region. (FARC was disbanded as part of a peace accord in 2016.)