Biden reads detained Griner’s letter but player’s wife ‘disheartened’


The WNBA star sent her correspondence to the US president on July 4

US President Joe Biden has read jailed basketball star Brittney Griner’s handwritten plea to him, as confirmed by White House officials.

Griner has been detained in Russia since February 17 after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. 

Currently on trial just outside the Russian capital and set to appear before judges again on July 7, Griner faces up to 10 years behind bars on drug smuggling charges and has appealed to Biden to do all he can to secure her release.

A letter from Griner was delivered to the American leader on Monday, July 4, and during a regular briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that Biden had read the message.

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Brittney Griner has addressed the US leader directly. © Christian Petersen / Getty Images
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“This is very personal to him,” Jean-Pierre insisted, though she didn’t say what Biden’s reaction to the letter was, or whether there were any plans for the president to speak to Griner’s family.

“We are going to use every tool we possibly can to make that happen,” Jean-Pierre said regarding the potential release of Griner and other detained Americans.

Appearing on American television, Griner’s wife Cherelle confirmed that there has been no response to the letter nor direct contact from the White House, which has disappointed her.

“I still have not heard from him and honestly, it’s very disheartening,” Cherelle Griner admitted on the CBS Mornings program.

“BG is probably the strongest person that I know. So she doesn’t say words like that lightly,” Cherelle Griner added regarding her partner’s fears of being detained in Russia indefinitely.

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Brittney Griner appeared at Khimki City Court on Friday. © RIA / Alexey Filipov
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“She truly is terrified that she may never see us again,” Cherelle Griner explained. 

Biden’s lack of communication is another setback for the Griners after a phone call between the couple on their anniversary failed due to what the Biden administration called an “unfortunate mistake” by US officials. 

While the State Department has classed Griner as wrongfully detained, the Kremlin is adamant that Griner’s treatment is not politically-motivated and that the two-time Olympic gold medalist is simply being punished for not obeying the law.

Griner had been traveling to Russia to play for women’s basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg – a move she has made during the WNBA offseason for the past several years. 

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