Filed Under: International

WNBA’s Brittney Griner sends letter to Biden from Russian prison

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Brittney Griner wrote a letter to President Joe Biden from a Russian prison, pleading with him to not forget about her and other American detainees. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA star has been illegally detained since February.

Russian authorities allege they found THC vape cartridges in Griner’s luggage as she was returning to the country. Griner is one of about 70 WNBA players who competed internationally during the 2021 offseason.

In Griner’s letter to Biden, described as hand-written, she said, “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’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said the letter was delivered Monday. The White House National Security Council confirmed its delivery.

Griner’s Russian trial, called a “show” by many legal experts, started last week. If convicted, Griner faces up to ten years in prison. Fewer than 1% of Russian criminal trials end with an acquittal.

Elizabeth Rood, the Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. State Department in Russia, spoke with Griner in the courtroom when her trial began on July 1st.

“She is doing as well as can be expected in these difficult circumstances,” Rood said. “She asked me to convey that she’s in good spirits and is keeping up the faith.”

Griner’s fans, supporters and fellow athletes are lobbying for a prisoner swap.

Griner’s wife, speaking to CBS Mornings, said she was initially told by the Biden administration it was best for her to stay quiet and let the State Department handle negotiations behind the scenes.

“I did that, and respectfully we’re over 140 days [of Brittney Griner’s detention] at this point,” Cherelle Griner said. “[Staying quiet] does not work. And so I will not be quiet anymore. I will find that balance of harm verse help in pushing our government to do everything that’s possible.”

Griner’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 7.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

BRITTNEY GRINER WROTE A LETTER TO PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN FROM A RUSSIAN PRISON, PLEADING WITH HIM TO NOT FORGET ABOUT HER.

THE TWO-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST AND WNBA STAR HAS BEEN ILLEGALLY DETAINED SINCE FEBRUARY, WHEN RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES SAY THEY FOUND THC VAPE CARTRIDGES IN HER LUGGAGE. GRINER WAS RETURNING TO THE COUNTRY TO PLAY FOR THE RUSSIAN TEAM SHE’S A MEMBER OF DURING THE WNBA OFF SEASON.

IN GRINER’S LETTER TO BIDEN, DESCRIBED AS HAND-WRITTEN, SHE SAID “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’S RUSSIAN TRIAL, CALLED A “SHOW” BY MANY LEGAL EXPERTS, STARTED LAST WEEK. IF CONVICTED, GRINER FACES UP TO TEN YEARS IN PRISON. FEWER THAN 1% OF RUSSIAN CRIMINAL TRIALS END WITH AN ACQUITTAL.

ELIZABETH ROOD, A US DIPLOMAT IN RUSSIA, SPOKE WITH GRINER WHEN HER TRIAL BEGAN.

ROOD: “She is doing as well as can be expected in these difficult circumstances, and she asked me to convey that she’s in good spirits and is keeping up the faith.

GRINER’S FANS, SUPPORTERS AND FELLOW ATHLETES ARE LOBBYING FOR A PRISONER SWAP.

GRINERS WIFE SAID SHE WAS INITIALLY TOLD BY THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IT WAS BEST FOR HER TO STAY QUIET AND LET THE STATE DEPARTMENT HANDLE NEGOTIATIONS BEHIND THE SCENES.

CHERELLE: I did that, and respectfully we’re over 140 days at this point. That does not work. And so I will not be quiet anymore. I will find that balance of harm vs help in pushing our government to do everything that’s possible.

GRINER’S NEXT COURT APPEARANCE IS SCHEDULED FOR JULY 7TH.

 

Brittney Griner wrote a letter to President Joe Biden from a Russian prison, pleading with him to not forget about her and other American detainees. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA star has been illegally detained since February.

Russian authorities allege they found THC vape cartridges in Griner’s luggage as she was returning to the country. Griner is one of about 70 WNBA players who competed internationally during the 2021 offseason.

In Griner’s letter to Biden, described as hand-written, she said, “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’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said the letter was delivered Monday. The White House National Security Council confirmed its delivery.

Griner’s Russian trial, called a “show” by many legal experts, started last week. If convicted, Griner faces up to ten years in prison. Fewer than 1% of Russian criminal trials end with an acquittal.

Elizabeth Rood, the Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. State Department in Russia, spoke with Griner in the courtroom when her trial began on July 1st.

“She is doing as well as can be expected in these difficult circumstances,” Rood said. “She asked me to convey that she’s in good spirits and is keeping up the faith.”

Griner’s fans, supporters and fellow athletes are lobbying for a prisoner swap.

Griner’s wife, speaking to CBS Mornings, said she was initially told by the Biden administration it was best for her to stay quiet and let the State Department handle negotiations behind the scenes.

“I did that, and respectfully we’re over 140 days [of Brittney Griner’s detention] at this point,” Cherelle Griner said. “[Staying quiet] does not work. And so I will not be quiet anymore. I will find that balance of harm verse help in pushing our government to do everything that’s possible.”

Griner’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 7.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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