Russia accuses US basketball player Griner of drug possession and puts her on trial. The two-time Olympic champion is now turning to the US President with an emotional letter. The White House is reluctant to respond.
Basketball player Brittney Griner, who is being held in Moscow, has personally asked US President Joe Biden for help. The 31-year-old's environment distributed excerpts of a letter at the beginning of the week when the national holiday was celebrated in the USA. The White House acknowledged receipt of the letter.
Griner has been in Russian custody since February 17 on charges of drug possession. Her trial began last Friday. It will continue on Thursday. The pre-trial detention was last extended until December 20th.
Griner asked Biden in the letter not to forget her and other detained Americans. "Sitting here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or other accomplishments, I fear that I may be here forever," her letter read to Biden, for whom she said she voted in the 2020 US presidential election. She usually celebrates July 4th with her family, where those who fought for freedom are honored, Griner wrote. She recalled that her father was a Vietnam War veteran. "It hurts to think how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year."
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden read the letter. Referring to Griner, Jean-Pierre reiterated the US government's line: "We believe she is wrongly imprisoned," she said. Every means is being used to bring them and other US citizens wrongfully detained abroad home.
The two-time Olympic champion, who plays for Phoenix Mercury in the USA but was also active in Russia's league, faces up to ten years in prison. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said the US government is doing everything it can to bring Griner home. Relations between the US and Russia are currently at a low point because of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. At the start of the trial, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had rejected allegations that the trial against Griner was politically motivated.