December 3, 2023

WNBA star Britney Greiner asked President Joe Biden to bring her home from detention in Russia, where she is on trial for drug trafficking, telling the president in a handwritten letter: “I’m terrified.”

“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 am terrified to be here forever,” Greiner wrote.

A spokesperson who released extracts from Greiner’s letter on Monday said the document was delivered to the president at the White House on Monday. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.

Britney Grenier of Phoenix Mercury during a game against Chicago Sky in Phoenix on October 10.Michael Gonzalez/NBAE via Getty Images

Greiner, 31, a Houston resident who serves as a hub for Phoenix Mercury, was arrested in February by agents of Russia’s Federal Customs Service at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow. She plays for a Russian team during the WNBA’s offseason.

“I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates!” she wrote to Biden. “It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for everything you can do at this moment to bring me home.”

Russian authorities claim they were in possession of cannabis-derived e-cigarette cartridges. Griner’s representatives did not touch on the technical substance of what it claims to possess, and the line between non-psychoactive cannabidiol – better known as CBD, which is It is popular among athletes As a potential exercise recovery aid – psychoactive cannabis is not recognized in Russia. CBD is generally recognized as legal in the United States, and the World Anti-Doping Agency removed it from its prohibited list in 2018.

In her letter, Greiner acknowledged that the Fourth of July is an occasion to celebrate the nation’s freedoms.

“On the Fourth of July, our family usually honors serving those who fought for our freedom, including my father who was a Vietnam War veteran,” Greiner said. “It hurts to think about the way I normally celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”

She pleaded with Biden to continue working for her release.

“I realize you’re dealing with a lot, but please don’t forget me and the other American detainees,” she wrote. “Please do everything in your power to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much to do with my freedom that you can help get it back.”

The White House has been consistent in its position that Greiner is being unjustly detained. Officials said they were working behind the scenes to secure her release. “The US government continues to work aggressively – using all available means – to get her home,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrian Watson said in a statement Monday, adding that the administration is in “regular contact” with her family.

“National Security Adviser Sullivan has spoken twice with Britney’s wife in the past two weeks, and the White House is coordinating closely with the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, who has met Britney’s family, colleagues, and support network,” Watson added. .

The situation is certainly complicated by the hostility between the United States and Russia. Greiner was arrested less than a week before Russia invaded Ukraine and imposed economic sanctions, withdrawing Western companies and shipping weapons and technology to Ukraine.

On June 28, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with reporters about putting Greiner aboard Air Force One on his way to Madrid, saying it “gets the most attention from the president.”

“The Russian government should release her and allow her to return, be reunited with her family and return home safely,” he said.

Sullivan said he and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke to Greiner’s wife recently and expressed sympathy for what the family is going through.

Greiner was photographed in the Russian court on Friday. The next session was scheduled for Thursday.

Eric Mendoza Contributed.

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