'Terrified I Might Be Here Forever': WNBA's Griner Writes to Biden From Russian Custody

Tabatha Wethal Headshot
The south lawn of the White House
The south lawn of the White House
David Strickler

In a letter to president Joe Biden, WNBA star Brittney Griner — who has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17 on alleged drug charges — said she was scared, and that she worries she might not leave Russian custody. 

According to an Associated Press report, Griner's letter was passed to the White House through her representatives saying she feared she might not return home, and telling the president not to “forget about me and the other American Detainees.” The letter was delivered Monday. 

Griner’s representatives shared a few excerpts from the hand-written note, but the majority of the letter to the president remains private, the AP reported. 

″…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.

“On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran,” Griner wrote in the letter. “It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is in the midst of a trial in Russia that began last week after she was arrested on charges of possessing cannabis oil while returning to play for her Russian team.

The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday.


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According to the AP, fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in U.S. courts, acquittals can be overturned.

The White House National Security Council confirmed the White House has received Griner’s letter.

“We believe the Russian Federation is wrongfully detaining Brittney Griner,” NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Monday. “President Biden has been clear about the need to see all U.S. nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner. The U.S. government continues to work aggressively – using every available means – to bring her home.”

In May, the State Department designated Griner as wrongfully detained in Russia, moving her case under the supervision of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator. 

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