Brittney Griner has written a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to help secure her freedom from Russian detention.
The WNBA star’s reps released excerpts from the letter on July 4th to ESPN’s T.J. Quinn.
“… 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 Phoenix Mercury player reflected on spending Independence Day away from her family and said the day is especially important because her father served in the military.
“On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those men who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran,” she shared. “It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
Griner, 31, said she realizes Biden is dealing with many pressing issues, but pleaded with him to step up efforts to get her and other Americans being held in Russia back home.
“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,” she added. “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.”
NEW: A letter from Brittney Griner was sent to the White House today, making a direct appeal to President Biden for her freedom. Representatives shared the following excerpts: pic.twitter.com/pvh4IpOfou
— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) July 4, 2022
The letter was described as handwritten, although the excerpts given to ESPN had been typed.
An administration official confirmed the White House had received Griner’s letter.
“We believe the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told ESPN 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.”
Griner was detained at Moscow Airport on Feb. 17, after Russian officials allegedly found vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage. She had traveled to Russia to play in the off-season. In May, the U.S. government said Griner had been “wrongfully detained” by Russian authorities.
Paul Whelan, a U.S. citizen and former Marine, is also imprisoned in Russia. He was arrested in December 2018 on espionage charges, which he and the U.S. government say are false. Whelan, who is described as a corporate security executive, was convicted and sentenced in June 2020 to a 16-year prison sentence.