Upon receiving letter from Houston's Brittney Griner, Biden says he's working to get her home

Adam Winkler Image
Thursday, July 7, 2022
Biden says he's working on Griner's return, after receiving her letter
Less than 1% of the defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and, unlike in U.S. courts, acquittals can be overturned.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- One day before the trial for Houston native Brittney Griner resumes in Russia, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner, Brittney Griner's wife.

Biden's conversation with Cherelle Griner followed Brittney Griner's personal appeal to the president in a handwritten letter from the basketball superstar the White House received Monday.

In the letter, Brittney Griner said she feared she would spend forever in detention in Russia and asked Biden not to "forget about me and the other American Detainees."

Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for four months and is currently on trial, accused of possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The trial resumes Thursday.

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

"The president called Cherelle to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney Griner's release as soon as possible, as well as the release of Paul Whelan and other U.S. nationals who are wrongfully detained or held hostage in Russia and around the world," the White House said in a statement. "He also read her a draft of the letter the President is sending to Brittney Griner (Wednesday)."

Biden offered the family his support and committed to making sure they receive "all possible assistance" during the administration's pursuit of Brittney Griner's release, the White House said. He added this situation has been at the top of his mind, and he receives daily updates about the status of Brittney Griner's negotiations.

Following the phone call, Cherelle Griner released a statement saying - in part - she's grateful for the time the president and vice president spent with her and for the commitment they expressed to bringing Brittney Griner home. Cherelle Griner admits she remains concerned and will stay outspoken, but is also hopeful.

The WNBA Players Association, upon learning about the president's phone call, says in a statement, it now has "a level of comfort BG has not been forgotten."

Additionally, a group of more than 1,100 Black women leaders sent an open letter to Biden and Harris on behalf of Brittney Griner.

The letter from the Win With Black Women Network, calling on the president and vice president to make a deal with Russian officials, is signed by basketball Hall of Famers, elected officials, activists and even Tina Knowles-Lawson, Beyonce's mother.

The women leaders say Brittney Griner is being used as a political pawn and enduring inhumane conditions while being denied communication with her spouse, family and friends.

For more sports news, follow Adam Winkler on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.