Brittney Griner Urges Biden For Release: “Terrified” She’ll Stay In Russian Prison “Forever”
WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since before the war (she was arrested at a Moscow airport Feb.17 for allegedly having cannabis oil on her possession), says she’s “terrified” that she’ll remain in Russian confinement “forever”.
She sent a handwritten letter to President Joe Biden in an urgent plea for her release to be secured, expressing fears that her imprisonment could be indefinite:
“(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, according to a statement released by the communications company representing the Griner family.
Given the US starting weeks ago changed her status to “wrongfully detained” – the State Department is authorized to pursue her release via country to country hostage negotiations, though few or no details have been given on these proceedings or where things stand.
Much of the letter’s contents have not been revealed and is being kept private upon the request of Griner and her family.
Another published excerpts reads: “On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those men who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran.” It added: “It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
“I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you,” another excerpt reads in a direct appeal for Biden to prioritize her release. “I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore.”
Upon the letter being made known, the White House repeated on Monday that “the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner.”
Brittney Griner made a direct appeal to President Biden for her freedom in a letter on Monday.
The WNBA star has been detained in Russia for 137 days.
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— ESPN (@espn) July 4, 2022
“President Biden has been clear about the need to see all US nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner. The US government continues to work aggressively – using every available means – to bring her home,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said. “The President’s team is in regular contact with Brittney’s family and we will continue to work to support her family.”
Meanwhile, Russia has recently again hinted that it could be ready to negotiate a hostage swap for a notorious arms trafficker named Viktor Bout. But the US side has remained quiet on this prospect.