Brittney Griner to Biden: ‘I’m Terrified I Might Be Here Forever’

This piece was originally published by Them.

In a handwritten letter delivered to President Joe Biden on July 4, Brittney Griner, the all-star player for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, pleaded for help getting home from Russia, according to The Associated Press. The lauded basketball player has been incarcerated in Russia since February after being detained at a Moscow airport for allegedly carrying a vape cartridge containing hash oil. The Russian government has accused her of “large scale transportation of drugs,” and her sentence is set to last at least six more months as her trial progresses.

The note was delivered to the White House on Monday, and although most of Griner’s remarks to Biden remain private, representatives shared select excerpts of the letter with the press. “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.

The timing of her letter on America’s celebration of Independence Day was intentional. “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,” Griner continued. “It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”

Lastly, Griner pleaded with Biden to “please do all you can to bring us home,” especially as the President who earned the basketball player’s first vote in 2020. “I believe in you,” Griner wrote. “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.”

Griner’s letter comes shortly after her wife, Cherelle Griner, revealed that the U.S. State Department failed to properly coordinate a call between the married couple on their fourth anniversary. At the time, Cherelle shared that while she was still hoping for a direct audience with Biden, at that point it was “starting to feel like a no.”

Griner’s trial began on July 1, and the Associated Press reported that she declined to enter a plea at this time. If she is found guilty, she faces up to 10 years in prison. According to the AP, fewer than 1% of defendants who are convicted of a crime in Russia are acquitted, with acquittals also being reversible.

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