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Brittney Griner Writes to White House Appealing for Freedom: 'Don't Forget About Me'

Doric SamJuly 4, 2022

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

WNBA star Brittney Griner wrote a letter directly to the White House and President Joe Biden appealing for help in obtaining her freedom from Russia.

Excerpts from the letter were released by representatives of Griner, per ESPN's T.J. Quinn.

"I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don't forget about me and the other American Detainees," one excerpt stated. "Please do all that you can to bring us home.

Griner stated in her letter that she felt "terrified I might be here forever." The Phoenix Mercury center explained the personal importance of the Fourth of July to her and her family because her father is a Vietnam War veteran. In her direct plea to President Biden, she said: "I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with the freedom that you can help restore."

The 31-year-old has been detained in Russia for since February 17 after she was arrested at an airport after authorities allegedly found hashish oil in her luggage. The U.S. Department of State categorized her as "wrongfully detained" in May. As of Monday, she has been detained for 137 days.

The two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist had her detention extended last Monday by another six months to Dec. 20. Her case went to trial Friday for an initial session and was adjourned until July 7. If convicted on the charges of large-scale transportation of drugs, Griner faces up to 10 years in prison.

Alexander Boykov, an attorney for Griner, told reporters: "I wouldn't want to talk on the specifics of the case and on the charges and to comment on our position on it because it's too early for it."

It has been widely speculated that a prisoner exchange would be required for Griner's release. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined to discuss a potential exchange during a June 26 appearance on CNN.

"As a general proposition ... I have got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home," Blinken said. "I can’t comment in any detail on what we’re doing, except to say this is an absolute priority."

In June, the WNBA named Griner as an honorary All-Star for the 2022 season. She has received an outpouring of support from her fellow players as well as NBA stars, who are all advocating for her release.

The excerpts from Griner's letter ended by stating: "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."

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