Britney Greiner made an appeal to President Joe Biden in a letter sent to the White House through her representatives saying that she feared she would never come home and asking him to “never forget me and other American detainees.”
Griner agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said the letter was delivered on Monday. Most of the contents of the letter addressed to President Biden remain classified, although Griner’s representatives shared a few lines of the handwritten memo.
“…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.
“On the Fourth of July, our family usually honors service to those who fought for our freedom, including my father who was a Vietnam War veteran,” added the Phoenix Mercury Center. “It hurts to think about the way I normally celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
The two-time gold medalist in the midst of a trial in Russia began last week after she was arrested on February 17 for possession of cannabis oil while returning to play for her Russian team. The trial will resume Thursday.
Less than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases have been acquitted, and unlike US courts, acquittals can be invalidated.
The White House National Security Council confirmed that the White House had received Greiner’s letter.
“We believe the Russian Federation is unjustly holding Britney Greiner,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrian Watson said on Monday. President Biden has been clear about the need to release all American citizens who are being held hostage or unjustly held abroad, including Britney Greiner. The US government continues to work aggressively – using every means available – to bring her home.”
In the speech, Greiner implored Biden to use his powers to secure her return.
“Please do everything in your power to get us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and voted for you. I trust you. I miss my wife!” Greiner said. I miss my family! I miss my teammates! 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.”
Griner was able to make sporadic communications with family, friends, and WNBA players through an email account her agent created. The emails are printed and delivered in batches to Griner by her lawyer after they are vetted by Russian officials. Once the attorneys return to their offices, they will scan any responses from Griner and send them to the United States for transmission.
She was supposed to make a phone call to her wife on her wedding anniversary but failed due to an “unfortunate mistake,” according to Biden administration officials.
Griner’s supporters encouraged prisoner exchanges like the one in April that brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reid in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking. Classified by the State Department in May as an unjustly held, she moved her case under the supervision of its Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.
Greiner is not the only American unjustly detained in Russia. Paul Whelan, a former director of the Navy and Security Forces, is serving a 16-year sentence for espionage.