Britney Griner wrote to President Joe Biden with an urgent appeal: “Please don’t forget me.”
The WNBA star’s message came via a handwritten letter she wrote from the Russian prison where she has been held since her incarceration. arrested in February at a Moscow airport on drug charges. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, my family, my friends, my Olympic jersey or any achievement, I am terrified of be here forever,” Griner wrote.
Representatives for Griner shared sections of the letter with BuzzFeed News and other outlets, but said the full message would be kept confidential between her and the president.
“On July 4, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War veteran,” Griner wrote. “It hurts to think about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.
Griner, 31, also told Biden his very first vote was for him in the 2020 presidential election.
“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget me and the other American inmates. Please do all you can to bring us home,” she said. “I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much to do with my freedom that you can help restore.”
“I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates!” Grier said. “It kills me to know that they’re in so much pain right now. I’m grateful for whatever you can do right now to bring me home.”
National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News that the White House was working “aggressively” to bring Griner home.
“We believe the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner,” Watson said. “President Biden has been clear on the need to see all U.S. nationals held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas released, including Brittney Griner. The U.S. government continues to work aggressively – using all available means – to take her home.”
Watson also said senior officials have been in regular contact with Griner’s family and teammates.
But Griner’s wife, Cherelle, told CBS Tuesday morning that it was “very disheartening” that she had yet to hear about Biden’s letter.
Cherelle said she was disappointed she couldn’t meet Biden personally.
“It kills me every time…when I have to write to her and she asks me, ‘Have you ever met him?’ And I have to say, ‘No.’ … I’m sure she’s like, ‘I’m going to write to him and ask him now, because my family tried and to no avail. So I’m going to do it myself,’” Cherelle said.