On July 4, Phoenix Mercury star center Brittney Griner sent a “hand-written” letter to United States president Joe Biden.
Griner has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17. The United States government has classified it as a wrongful detention and have been negotiating her release. Griner’s trial on charges that she tried to smuggle vape cartridges with hashish oil into Russia began Friday.
“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other detainees,” an excerpt released by her representatives said, via ESPN’s T.J. Quinn. “Please do all you can to bring us home.”
Part of her letter also read, “I’m terrified I might be here forever.”
Quinn added, “A representative for Griner said they would not release the entire letter, or detail how the letter got from Griner’s jail cell outside of Moscow to the White House. Griner has been able to send and receive notes to friends and family through her Russian attorneys, although all the messages have been monitored by Russian officials.”
Griner and her wife, Cherelle, were scheduled to have a phone call on June 18 to celebrate their fourth anniversary — it would have been the first time the two spoke since Brittney’s detainment. However, a logistical error at the U.S. embassy prevented the phone call from occurring. The State Department apologized for the error, but Cherelle was, understandable, upset and angry.
“… 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. “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.”
Griner noted her father’s military service and what Independence Day meant to her while sitting in a Russian jail cell.
“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,” another excerpt read. “It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
Griner’s trial is set to resume Thursday. She has not entered a plea, but it is believed a guilty plea would be advantageous to get talks of a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia done sooner rather than later.