Brittney Griner sent a letter to President Biden during the 4th of July holiday weekend, making a direct appeal for her freedom from Russian detention.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and 8-time WNBA All-Star, is currently on trial for possession of vape cartridges at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, Russia. Her trial began on July 1, and she has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17.
She is currently facing up to 10 years in prison. Furthermore, fewer than 1 percent of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted and, unlike the U.S., acquittals can be overturned, according to The Washington Post.
“…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 writes. “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 continues: “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. 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.”
Only part of Griner’s letter to Biden was made public, with a representative for Griner saying they would not release the entire letter or explain how it was sent from Moscow to Washington, D.C., according to ESPN.
The White House National Security Council (NSC) commented on Griner’s letter, saying they believe she is “wrongfully detained.”
“We believe the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner,” said Adrienne Watson, NSC spokeswoman, in a statement on Monday. “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.”