Brittney Griner Pens Handwritten Letter to President Joe Biden From Russian Prison

A handwritten letter from Brittney Griner was delivered to the White House on Monday morning, according to the Griner family, who provided excerpts to reporters. In her letter, the imprisoned WNBA star pleaded with the president not to forget her, and said her already deep appreciation for Independence Day has taken on new meaning this year. 

“I’m terrified I might be here forever,” wrote Griner, who has been detained in Russia since mid-February. “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. It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.” 

Griner, whose trial began last week, was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after Russia claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage. A Russian judge ordered Griner, the Phoenix Mercury center who played in Russia during the WNBA off-season, to remain in custody for the trial’s duration. 

The U.S. has said Griner is being wrongfully detained. 

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

In her personal plea, Griner urged Mr. Biden to free all U.S. captives. “I realize you are dealing with so much,” she wrote, “But please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.” 

Griner noted in the letter that she voted for Mr. Biden in 2020, the first time she voted. “I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore,” she wrote. 

While some supporters back a prisoner swap, Griner’s detention and trial come at a low point in U.S.-Russia relations amid the war in Ukraine. 

“We believe 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. The U.S. government continues to work aggressively – using every available means — to bring her home,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement on Monday. “The President’s team is in regular contact with Brittney’s family and we will continue to work to support her family.”

Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and family had no further comment on the letter. 

This story was originally published by CBS News on July 4, 2022.

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