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US basketball star detained in Russia asks president Joe Biden for help

In her letter, Brittney Griner reminds Biden about her father who served in Vietnam war and says she misses her wife and family

Brittney GrinerWNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP)

Brittney Griner, the American basketball superstar detained in Russia on drug charges for four months, has written to US President Joe Biden pleading for help.

“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, excerpts of which were released by US authorities.

“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.”

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 1, 2022. U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner is set to go on trial in a Moscow-area court Friday. The proceedings that are scheduled to begin Friday come about 4 1/2 months after she was arrested on cannabis possession charges at an airport while traveling to play for a Russian team. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Griner was detained at the Moscow airport after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

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The Phoenix Mercury All-Star center and two-time US Olympic gold medalist Griner also mentioned her father’s military service in Vietnam.

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

She requested urgent intervention from the president.

“Please do all you can to bring us home,” she wrote. “I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you.”

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US authorities have stated that they are working “aggressively – using every available means – to bring her home”.

Despite the strain imposed by the Ukraine situation, Russia and the United States carried out an unexpected prisoner exchange in April, trading ex-marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.

While the U.S. does not typically embrace such exchanges, it made the deal in part because Yaroshenko had already served a long portion of his prison sentence.
The Russians may consider Griner a potential part of another such exchange.

First published on: 06-07-2022 at 10:15:11 am
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