It bears repeating that one of the key selling points Democrats used in promoting then-candidate Vice President Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election was his supposed strength on matters of foreign policy. If the worldwide economic turmoil related to the botched “deterrence” of the Russian invasion of Ukraine wasn’t enough to disabuse him of those credentials, an emotional plea from an American citizen detained abroad for more than four months ought to do the trick.
WNBA player Brittney Griner, 31, arrived at the Moscow airport on Feb. 17 where she was arrested by Russian authorities for allegedly smuggling drugs into the country in the form of vape cartridges containing hash oil. Now, having remained in custody with her previously delayed trial having begun Friday, the basketball star has reached out to the president for help in reclaiming her freedom.
Excerpts from a letter addressed to Biden were released to the press Monday in which Griner expressed her fears of never being released from Russian custody, “…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.”
NEW: A letter from Brittney Griner was sent to the White House today, making a direct appeal to President Biden for her freedom. Representatives shared the following excerpts: pic.twitter.com/pvh4IpOfou
— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) July 4, 2022
“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. “It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
The athlete also addressed that she was not alone in her plight as other Americans remain captive to the whims of the Russian judicial system. “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. 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.”
“I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now,” Griner lamented. “I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”
‘She violated Russian law’: Putin spox denies WNBA star Brittney Griner is being held hostage https://t.co/lium0teKkb
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 23, 2022
As previously reported, the Russian government insists that Griner is not a hostage and that they are within their rights to try her for the alleged crime. Should she be found guilty, she could face up to 10 years in prison for smuggling drugs. There are rumors that negotiations are underway to see the athlete used in a prisoner swap for Viktor Bout, a Russian currently serving a 25 year sentence in federal prison for conspiracy to kill Americans in support of a Colombian terrorist organization.
The Biden administration has already facilitated at least one high-profile prisoner exchange when former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed who had spent almost a thousand days in a Russian prison was returned to his home in Texas in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20 year sentence for “conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.”
Corporate security executive Paul Whelan, another American held in Russian custody, had pled for Biden to take action for American detainees in June 2021 before the president had held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Despite the apparent stagnation on liberating these citizens, National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson insisted that the administration is addressing these matters.
Asked for comment about the letter Brittney Griner sent to President Biden today, NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson says "The President’s team is in regular contact with Brittney’s family and we will continue to work to support her family." More below: pic.twitter.com/nvB4Q3cJWu
— Matt Viser (@mviser) July 4, 2022
“The U.S. government continues to work aggressively – using every available means – to bring her home,” Watson stated in part. “The President’s team is in regular contact with Brittney’s family and we will continue to work to support her family…the White House is closely coordinating with the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.”
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