WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden said bringing WNBA star Brittney Griner home is a “top priority” after she sent him a letter pleading for help amid her trial in Russia, the White House said on Tuesday.
The confirmation from the White House comes after the WNBA star sent the President a letter, pleading for his help for herself and the other Americans who are currently being detained in Russia.
“He takes this to heart,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “He takes this job very seriously, especially when it comes to bringing home U.S. nationals who are wrongfully detained.”
A letter from Griner’s representatives was passed on to the White House on Monday. In the letter, Griner said she is worried she may stay in prison in Russia forever and called on Biden along with the entire U.S. government to do whatever it takes to ensure her release.
″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,” Griner wrote. “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.”
Griner was arrested on February 17 on charges of possessing cannabis oil, which is illegal in Russia. Her trial began last week and if she is convicted, she’ll face up to 10 years in a Russian prison.
The news comes amid criticism from Griner’s wife and coach that the Biden administration is not doing enough to bring the Americans detained in Russia home.
Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard spoke to the media Tuesday about Griner’s trial and the response from the U.S.
“If it was LeBron, he’d be home, right?” Nygaard said. “It’s a statement about the value of women. It’s a statement about the value of a black person. It’s a statement about the value of a gay person. All of those things. We know it, and so that’s what hurts a little more.”
Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, spoke to CBS News Tuesday and expressed her frustration the White House is not doing enough and is unable to bring her home.
“I will find that balance of … harm versus help in pushing our government to do everything that’s possible because being quiet, they’re not moving, they’re not doing anything,” Cherelle Griner told Gayle King.
The White House dismissed those claims Monday.
“We believe she is wrongfully detained,” Jean-Pierre said. “We believe she needs to come home.”