- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The White House on Monday received a letter from U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner that pleads with President Biden to fight for her release from a Russian jail, saying she fears she will never return home.

Excerpts of Ms. Griner’s letter to Mr. Biden, much of which remains private, were released by her representatives and reported by The Associated Press.

“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’m terrified I might be here forever,” the Women’s National Basketball Association star and two-time Olympic gold medalist wrote. “On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War veteran. It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”

Ms. Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February on charges she had cartridges with oil derived from cannabis.

She is detained at a diplomatically fragile time. The West is punishing Russia for its unprovoked attack on Ukraine, prompting fears Ms. Griner will be used as a political pawn amid the tensions.

Ms. Griner urged Mr. Biden, who recently secured the release of another American — Trevor Reed — from Russia, to use his presidential powers to help her and other detainees.

“Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore,” her letter said. “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.”

Ms. Griner’s trial recently started and she could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Acquittals are reportedly rare in Russia and can be overturned later, unlike in U.S. courts.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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