White House says Biden has read Brittney Griner’s plea for help | WNBA

Brittney Griner’s appeal to US president Joe Biden in a handwritten letter continued to garner reactions Tuesday after the WNBA All-Star admitted he feared never returning home and asked Biden not to “forget about me and the other American Prisoners”.

Griner’s letter was delivered through his representatives to the White House on Monday and officials said the president had read it. But Griner’s wife, Cherelle, said Tuesday on her morning talk show that she has not heard from Biden.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked repeatedly about Griner on Tuesday during a routine briefing. He said Biden read the letter, but he did not elaborate on his reaction.

“It’s very personal to him.”

Jean-Pierre did not say whether there were plans for Biden to speak to the Griner family, but said National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken both spoke with Griner’s wife recently.

Jean-Pierre said Biden wanted to bring Griner and other Americans home.

“We will use every tool we can to make it happen,” said Jean-Pierre.

Griner is in the midst of a trial in Russia that began last week after he was arrested on February 17 on charges of possessing marijuana oil while returning to play for his Russia team. The trial will resume Thursday.

Less than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in US courts, acquittals can be overturned.

Representative Griner Monday shared some excerpts from his letter to the president.

“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 achievements, I fear I will be here forever,” Griner wrote.

“On July 4th, our family usually honors the services of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran,” added the Phoenix Mercury center. “It hurts to think about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something very different to me this year.”

Cherelle Griner is disappointed that she has not communicated directly with the White House since the letter was sent.

“I still haven’t heard from her and honestly, it’s been very disappointing,” Cherelle Griner said on CBS Mornings.

Cherelle Griner said for Brittney to reach out directly to Biden was an indication of how scared his wife was about what would happen next.

“BG is probably the strongest person I know. So he doesn’t say words like that lightly,” said Cherelle. “That means he’s really scared that he might never see us again. And you know I share the same sentiment. … I bet he was like, ‘I’m going to write to him now because … my family has tried and it doesn’t work. So I’ll do it myself.’”

Griner implored Biden in the letter to use his powers to ensure his return.

“Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I trust you. I still have a lot of good things to do with my freedom so you can help restore it,” said Griner, “I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! Kills me knowing they are suffering so much now. I thank you for whatever you can do at this time to bring me home.”

Griner is able to communicate sporadically with family, friends, and WNBA players via email accounts created by his agent. The emails were printed and sent in bunches to Griner by his lawyer after being vetted by Russian officials. Once attorneys return to their offices, they will scan any responses from Griner and forward them back to the US for delivery.

He was supposed to make a phone call with his wife on their anniversary but failed due to an “unfortunate mistake”, the Biden administration official.

Griner supporters have pushed for prisoner swaps such as the one in April that brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy. The State Department in May designated him as the wrongful prisoner, moving his case under the supervision of the president’s special envoy for hostage affairs, who is effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.

Griner is not the only American wrongfully detained in Russia. Paul Whelan, the former director of maritime affairs and security, is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage charges.

White House says Biden has read Brittney Griner’s plea for help | WNBA

Source link White House says Biden has read Brittney Griner’s plea for help | WNBA

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