Joe Biden responds to Brittney Griner’s letter assuring him of release efforts | American sports
Joe Biden responded to a letter from detained American basketball star Brittney Griner in which she said she feared she would never return home from Russia, his wife told reporters on Friday.
“I was able to read [Biden’s] letter, and it brought so much joy as well as BG,” Cherelle Griner said, using a nickname for his wife. “I believe every word she said to [Biden] he understood, and he sees her as a person, and he hasn’t forgotten her, which was his biggest cry in his letter.
She added that the Biden administration had again assured that it was “exhausting all efforts” to repatriate Griner more than four months after his arrest in Russia for drug trafficking.
Cherelle Griner’s remarks came a day after Brittney Griner, 31, pleaded guilty to drug possession and smuggling charges at her trial in Moscow. She was arrested in February at a Moscow airport after officers allegedly found vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
The trial began a week earlier, prompting the Biden administration to do more to secure the former WNBA, NCAA and Olympic champion’s release. In her plea, Griner admitted to the charges but said she unwittingly brought the canisters in question because she had packed in a hurry.
Griner’s legal team in Russia said they hoped the guilty plea would result in a stiff sentence. She faces up to 10 years in prison and the case is due to go to court on July 14.
The Biden White House received a letter directly from Griner during the country’s Independence Day celebrations on Monday. “I’m terrified to be here forever,” read an excerpt his reps shared with The Guardian. “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget me and…the other American inmates. Please do whatever you can to get us home.
Two days later, Biden called Cherelle Griner and assured her that his administration was doing everything possible to secure Brittney Griner’s release. The president also followed up on the letter, Cherelle Griner revealed at Friday’s press conference.
The US State Department considers Griner wrongfully detained, transferring her case to an official who essentially serves as the federal government’s chief hostage negotiator.
Political tensions between the nations are high due to Russia’s decision in February to invade Ukraine, which received billions of dollars worth of weapons and other resources from the United States. And the administration has made public any strategy it may have to get Griner back from Russia.
Griner plays for the Phoenix Mercury, having helped the team capture the WNBA title in 2014 and leading it to a Finals appearance in October. In the off-seasons since 2015, she has played for UMMC Yekaterinburg of Russia, leading that club to three national championships and four continental titles.