“Ms Griner has been held for over four months on what Russia says are drug charges. “
″… 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 wrote.
“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,” the Phoenix Mercury center added. “It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
Brittney Griner made an appeal to President Joe Biden in a letter passed to the White House through her representatives saying she feared she might never return home and asking that he not ” forget about me and the other American Detainees.”
Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said the letter was delivered on Monday. Most of the letter’s contents to President Biden remain private, though Griner’s representatives shared the few lines above from the hand-written note.
President Biden has been clear about the need to see all US nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner,” said a spokeswoman from the National Security Council on Monday. US authorities also reiterated that they are working “aggressively – using every available means – to bring her home”.
Ms Griner has been held in Russia since her 17 February arrest at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after cannabis oil was allegedly found in her luggage. She is currently on trial and if convicted could face up to ten years in prison. Unlike in US courts, even if she is acquitted, Russia’s government has the authority to overturn any decision and send her to prison.
One of the most successful players in female basketball, the double Olympic champion plays the Women’s NBA (WNBA) off-season in Russia. Ms Griner plays in the EuroLeague team UMMC Ekaterinburg, where she has worked since 2014. Roughly half of WNBA players compete overseas in the off-season. For most, it’s a way to augment their domestic income, with WNBA players being paid roughly five times more in Russia than they do in the US.