Biden Speaks to Brittney Griner’s Spouse After WNBA Star Pens Letter From Russian Jail


President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on Wednesday with Cherelle Griner, the spouse of WNBA star and Olympic champion Brittney Griner, who has been held in a Russian jail on prices of bringing hashish oil vape cartridges into the nation since February. The phone dialog between Biden, Harris, and Cherelle Griner got here solely days after the president acquired a hand-written letter from Brittney Griner pleading with him to intervene on her behalf and that of different People being held by international governments.

“The President known as Cherelle to reassure her that he’s working to safe Brittneys launch as quickly as potential, in addition to the discharge of Paul Whelan and different US nationals who’re wrongfully detained or held hostage in Russia and world wide,” the White Home mentioned in a statement published by CNN. “He additionally learn her a draft of the letter the President is sending to Brittney Griner as we speak.”

The assertion from the White Home added that Biden “provided his help to Cherelle and Brittney’s household, and he dedicated to making sure they’re supplied with all potential help whereas his administration pursues each avenue to carry Brittney residence.”

The White Home additionally mentioned that Biden had responded to the letter Griner despatched from Russia final week, noting that the president had acquired the letter on Monday’s Independence Day vacation. The assertion added that Biden shared his response with Cherelle Griner throughout their dialog.

Basketball Star Arrested in February

Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star middle who has performed for the Phoenix Mercury because the 2013 season, together with the group’s 2014 league championship squad. She has additionally twice received the Olympic gold medal with the U.S. ladies’s basketball group.

Griner has performed seven seasons {of professional} basketball in Russia throughout the WNBA’s low season, a follow frequent among the many league’s gamers. She earns about $1 million per season to play in Russia, about 4 occasions the wage Griner earns enjoying for the WNBA. On January 29, Griner performed her newest recreation together with her group UMMC Ekaterinburg earlier than the Russian league took a break for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.

The Russian Customs Service reported on March 5 that an American ladies’s basketball participant had been detained after hashish vape cartridges had been found in her baggage on the Sheremetyevo airport. The date of the arrest was not given and the identify of the participant was not included within the report. Russian authorities additionally launched a video that appeared to indicate the star middle with customs officers at an airport safety checkpoint.

The Russian state information company TASS later reported that the arrested participant was Griner. Though the date of Griner’s arrest was not introduced, media retailers reported that she has been in custody since February 17. Her detention continues within the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has been broadly condemned by the worldwide group.

On Friday, Griner’s trial on prices of possession of hashish vape prices started in a courtroom exterior Moscow. CNN reported that the “prosecution argues that Griner supposed to import the medicine into Russia’s territory and put the prohibited substances right into a backpack and a suitcase,” and that hashish oil “is topic to manage in Russia and is assessed as a narcotic drug.”

Griner Sends Letter to Biden from Russian Jail

Final week, the WNBA star middle despatched a letter to Biden pleading for his assist securing her launch from jail.

“As I sit right here in a Russian jail, alone with my ideas and with out the safety of my spouse, household, mates, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I is perhaps right here endlessly,” reads an excerpt of the letter obtained by CNN.

“I understand you’re coping with a lot, however please don’t overlook about me and the opposite American Detainees,” Griner continued humbly. “Please do all you possibly can to carry us residence. I voted for the primary time in 2020 and I voted for you. I imagine in you. I nonetheless have a lot good to do with my freedom you could assist restore. I miss my spouse! I miss my household! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they’re struggling a lot proper now. I’m grateful for no matter you are able to do at this second to get me residence.”

Biden acquired the letter from Brittney Griner on the morning of July 4. The White Home launched three excerpts from the letter, noting that the remainder of the correspondence could be saved non-public.

“On the 4th of July, our household usually honors the service of those that fought for our freedom, together with my father who’s a Vietnam Battle Veteran,” Griner wrote. “It hurts occupied with how I normally have fun today as a result of freedom means one thing fully totally different to me this 12 months.”

Griner faces as much as 10 years in jail if convicted within the case. Her trial is scheduled to renew on Friday.

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