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Brittney Griner Sends Joe Biden Letter Pleading For Help After Being Detained By Russian Authorities

Brittney Griner Sends Joe Biden Letter Pleading For Help After Being Detained By Russian Authorities

The American basketball star was arrested four months ago at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow

WNBA player Brittney Griner has sent a written letter to President Joe Biden pleading for help after she was detained by Russian authorities.

The 6ft 9in American basketball star was arrested four months ago at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. Police said she was carrying vape canisters with cannabis oil.

The Phoenix Mercury star and two-time US Olympic gold medallist could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.

At a closed-door preliminary hearing on Monday (27 June) in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, the 31-year-old's detention was extended for another six months, to 20 December.

Brittney Griner has written a letter pleading for President Joe Biden's help.

Before her hearing continues on Thursday (7 July), the sports star has written to President Biden asking for help to get free.

In excerpts shared by her representatives, she wrote: "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.

"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,” she told the president in another portion. "It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.

"I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you."

Griner added: "I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! 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."

Last week, Griner's wife claimed the sports star is forced into a 'very, very, very tiny cage' for every five-hour trip to court in Russia.

Speaking to CNN, Cherelle said: "It's really, really difficult. This is not a situation where the rhetoric is matching the action.

"I do have to unfortunately push people to make sure that the things they're telling me is also matching their actions and so it's been the hardest thing to balance because I can't let up.

"It's over 130 days and BG's still not back."

The athlete’s detention and trial come at an extraordinarily low point in Moscow-Washington relations.

The WNBA star could face 10 years in prison if convicted.

Griner was arrested less than a week before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, which aggravated already high tensions between the two countries.

The invasion led to sweeping sanctions being imposed by the United States, and Russia denounced the US for sending weapons to Ukraine.

Amid the tension, Griner's supporters have kept a low profile in hopes of a quiet resolution, until May, when the state department reclassified her as wrongfully detained and shifted oversight of her case to its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs – effectively the US government's chief negotiator.

On Friday (1 July), Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied politics played a role in Griner's detention and prosecution.

Griner's supporters have encouraged a prisoner swap and Russian news media have repeatedly raised speculation that she could be swapped for Russian arms trader Viktor Bout – nicknamed 'the Merchant of Death' – who is serving a 25-year sentence for conspiracy to kill US citizens and providing aid to a terrorist organisation.

Russia has campaigned for Bout's release for years, but the wide discrepancy between Griner's case – which involves alleged possession of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil – and Bout's global dealings in deadly weapons, could make such a swap unpalatable to the US.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One on 28 June, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan declined to detail efforts to free Griner, but maintained the Biden administration is 'actively engaged."

If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: News, US News