Brittney Griner has made an appeal to President Joe Biden in a letter passed to the White House through her representatives saying she feared she might never return home.
The letter also asks that President Biden not forget about her and the other American detainees. Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said the letter was delivered on Monday.
Most of the letter’s contents to President Biden remain private, though Griner’s representatives shared a few lines from the hand-written note.
“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 July 4, our family normally honours the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran,” the Phoenix Mercury centre added.
“It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
The two-time Olympic gold medallist is in the midst of a trial in Russia which began last week after she was arrested on February 17 on charges of possessing cannabis oil while returning to play for her Russian team.
The trial will resume on Thursday. Fewer than one per cent of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in US courts, acquittals can be overturned.
Griner pleaded with Biden in the letter to use his powers to ensure her return.
“Please do all you can to bring us home,” Griner wrote. “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. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”
Griner has been able to have sporadic communications with family, friends and WNBA players through an email account her agent set up. The emails are printed out and delivered in bunches to Griner by her lawyer after they are vetted by Russian officials.
Once the lawyers get back to their office, they scan any responses from Griner and pass them back to the US to send along.
She was supposed to have a phone call with her wife on their anniversary but it failed because of an unfortunate mistake, Biden administration officials said.
Griners supporters have encouraged a prisoner swap like the one in April which brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy.
The State Department in May designated her as wrongfully detained, moving her case under the supervision of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.