Griner’s letter was delivered Monday through her White House officials, and officials say the president read it. However, Griner’s wife Cherelle said on a morning talk show Tuesday that she had not heard from Biden.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was repeatedly asked about Griner during Tuesday’s regular briefing. She said Biden read the letter but did not detail his reaction.
“It’s very personal for him.”
MORE: WNBA star Brittney Griner’s trial begins in Russian court
Jean-Pierre did not say whether there are plans for Biden to speak to Griner’s family, but said that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken both recently spoke to Griner’s wife.
Jean-Pierre said Biden wanted to bring Griner and other Americans home.
“We will use every tool we can to achieve this,” said Jean-Pierre.
Griner is in the midst of a trial in Russia that began last week after she was arrested on February 17 on charges of possessing cannabis oil as she returned to play for her Russian team. The trial will continue on Thursday.
Less than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike US courts, acquittals can be overturned.
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Griner’s representatives shared some excerpts from her letter to the president on Monday.
…Sitting here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jerseys or any accomplishments, I fear that I may be here forever,” Griner wrote.
“On July 4th, our family typically 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 to think how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something very different to me this year.”
Cherelle Griner was disappointed not to have had direct communication with the White House since the letter was delivered.
“I still haven’t heard from him and to be honest it’s very disheartening,” Cherelle Griner said on CBS Mornings.
Cherelle Griner said asking Brittney to reach out to Biden directly is an indication of how terrified her wife is about what comes next.
“BG is probably the strongest person I know. So she doesn’t say those words lightly,” Cherelle said. “It means she’s really scared of never seeing us again. And you know that I share the same feelings. … I’m sure she said, ‘I’m going to write to him now because … my family has tried and to no avail. So I’ll do it myself.'”
In the letter, Griner asked Biden to use his powers to ensure their return.
“Please do everything you can to bring us home. 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 it,” Griner said. “I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering right now. I am grateful for anything you can do at this moment to bring me home.”
Griner was able to communicate sporadically with family, friends, and WNBA players through an email account set up by her agent. The emails are printed out and bundled and delivered to Griner by her lawyer after being reviewed by Russian officials. Once the attorneys return to their office, they scan all of Griner’s replies and return them to the US for distribution.
She was supposed to be on the phone with her wife on their anniversary, but it fell through due to an “unfortunate mistake,” Biden administration officials.
Griner’s supporters have sponsored a prisoner swap like the one in April that brought home Navy veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy. The State Department in May declared her unjustly detained and placed her case under the oversight of the President’s special envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.
Griner is not the only American unjustly being held in Russia. Paul Whelan, a former director of marine and security, is serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction.
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
https://abc13.com/brittney-griner-russia-biden-letter-wnba/12023722/ Biden has read WNBA star Brittney’s Griner letter asking for help amid detention in Russia, White House says