Biden read Brittney Griner’s letter, White House says
Brittney Griner’s appeal to US President Joe Biden in a handwritten letter continued to receive a response Tuesday after the WNBA All-Star admitted she was afraid of never returning home and demanded Biden “don’t forget me and the other Americans detained.”
Griner’s letter was delivered to the White House by her representative on Monday, and officials say the president has read it. However, Griner’s wife, Cherelle, said Tuesday on a morning talk show that she hasn’t heard from Biden yet.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked repeatedly about Griner on Tuesday during a regular briefing. She said Biden had read the letter, but she did not elaborate on his response.
“This is very personal to him.”
Jean-Pierre did not say whether Biden planned to speak with the Griner family, but did say that US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken both spoke to Griner’s wife recently. .
Jean-Pierre said Biden wanted to bring Griner and other Americans home.
“We will use every tool we can to make that happen,” says Jean-Pierre.
Griner is on trial in Russia that began last week after she was arrested on February 17 for possession of cannabis oil while returning to play for her Russia team. The trial will continue on Thursday.
Less than 1% of defendants in criminal cases in Russia are acquitted, and unlike in US courts, acquittals can be overturned.
Griner’s representatives on Monday shared a few excerpts from her letter to the president.
“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 achievements, I fear that I could be here forever,” Griner wrote.
“On July 4, our family often honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who was a Vietnam Veteran,” the Phoenix Mercury said. more. “It’s heartbreaking to think about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means completely different things to me this year.”
Cherelle Griner is frustrated that there hasn’t been any direct communication with the White House since the letter was delivered.
“I haven’t heard from him yet and to be honest, it’s really disappointing,” Cherelle Griner said on CBS Mornings.
Cherelle Griner said Brittney’s direct contact with Biden is an indication of how scared her wife is about what’s next.
“BG is probably the strongest person I know. So she doesn’t say things like that lightly,” Cherelle said. “That means she was really scared that she might never see us again. And you know, I share those feelings too. … I’m sure she did. said, ‘I’m going to write him now because…my family has tried but to no avail. So I’ll do it myself.”‘
Griner pleaded with Biden in the letter to use her powers to secure her return.
“Do all you can to get us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have a lot of good work to do with the your freedom that you can help restore”, Griner said. “I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they’re suffering so much right now. I’m grateful for anything you can do at this time to get me home.”
Griner was able to sporadically communicate with family, friends, and WNBA players through an email account her agent set up. The emails were printed out by her lawyer and sent in bursts to Griner after being examined by Russian officials. When the attorneys return to their offices, they will scan any responses from Griner and ship them back to the US to be mailed.
She was supposed to have a phone call with her wife on their anniversary but it failed because of an “unfortunate mistake,” Biden administration officials said.
Griner’s supporters have encouraged a prisoner swap like the one that brought home former Marine Trevor Reed in April in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking plots. The U.S. State Department in May designated her as wrongfully detained, transferred her files under the supervision of the presidential special envoy for hostage affairs, effectively serving as chief negotiator. about government hostages.
Griner is not the only American wrongfully detained in Russia. Paul Whelan, a former maritime and security chief, is serving a 16-year prison sentence for espionage.
Associated Press journalist Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.