Britney Greiner’s appeal to President Joe Biden in a handwritten letter continued to garner backlash Tuesday after the WNBA All-Star admitted she fears never going home and told Biden not to “forget me and other American detainees.”
Greiner’s letter was delivered through her White House representatives on Monday and officials say the president read it. However, Greiner’s wife, Cheryl, said Tuesday on a morning talk show that she hasn’t heard from Biden.
White House Press Secretary Karen-Jean-Pierre was repeatedly asked about Grenier Tuesday during the regular briefing. She said Biden read the letter, but did not elaborate on his reaction.
“It’s very personal to him.”
Jean-Pierre did not say if there were plans for Biden to speak with the Greiner family, but he did say that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke to Grener’s wife recently.
Jean-Pierre said Biden wanted to bring Greiner and other Americans home.
“We will use every possible tool to make this happen,” said Jean-Pierre.
Greiner is in the midst of a trial in Russia that 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.
On Monday, Griner’s representatives shared some excerpts from her letter to the president.
Greiner wrote: As I am sitting 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.
“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.”
Cheryl Greiner has been disappointed that there has been no direct contact with the White House since the letter was delivered.
“I still haven’t heard any news from him and honestly, he’s just so depressing,” Cheryl Greiner said on CBS Mornings.
Sheryl Greiner said Britney’s direct communication with Biden is an indication of how apprehensive her wife is about her next move.
“BG is probably the strongest person I know. Cheryl said, so she doesn’t say words like that lightly.” That means she’s really afraid that she might never see us again. And you know I share the same feelings. …I’m sure she was like, “I’m going to write to him now because…my family tried but to no avail. So I’m going to do it myself.”
In the letter, 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.