U.S. WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been held in a Russian pre-trial detention center since February on drug trafficking charges, sent a handwritten letter to U.S. President Joe Biden asking him to remember her and to do everything possible for her release, Reuters reports.
“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,” she wrote in the letter, excerpts of which have been shared by her representatives.
The White House says it has received the letter and is working to bring Greiner home.
Greiner has been called one of today's best basketball players. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion, as well as a WNBA champion. In America, she played for the Phoenix Mercury team. Between seasons, the athlete traveled to Russia and played in the premier league for Yekaterinburg club UMMC to earn money, the BBC reports.
On February 17, 2022, Greiner was detained at the Sheremetyevo airport. They found a vape in her hand luggage and cannabis oil in her vape cartridges. Greiner was prosecuted under part 2 of article 229 of the Criminal Code (smuggling narcotics on a large scale). She faces up to ten years in jail. Since February, the athlete has been held in a pre-trial detention center in Khimki. On July 1, the court began hearing her case.
The Griner case has had a wide resonance in the United States. Before the trial began, hundreds of her supporters published an open letter urging the Biden administration to cut a deal that would allow the athlete to return to the United States.
Earlier, the NYT wrote that the Russian media began directly linking the Griner case with the case of the Russian Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in the U.S. for trafficking weapons. The TASS news agency, in particular, published a piece which claimed that negotiations about the exchange were already underway. However, the NYT sources did not confirm this information.