Detained WNBA Player Brittney Griner Pleads with Biden for Release

Brittney Griner is a WNBA player pennedA letter was sent to President Joe Biden Monday asking him not to forget Griner and other American detainees held in Russia. Griner was detained in Russia on February 17, following the death of her mother. ArrestFor allegedly carrying marijuana oil through Moscow Airport.

As I sit in this Russian prison alone, with my thoughts and no protection from my spouse, my friends, Olympic jerseys or any achievements, I feel terrified that I may be there forever.Griner said.

She continued: “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….It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”

Griner was charged with murder on Monday. Russian state media reports that officials were involved in Griner’s trial. Submit a claimThe Phoenix Mercury Center “purchased two cartridges to personal use. They contained 0.45 grams of haveh oil and 0.252 grams of hemp oil.” Russia was sent the cartridges in February. Griner can face up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted.

U.S. John Sullivan, the Ambassador of America to Russia, stated that Griner was unlawfully detained. He wroteIt is illegal to use “wrongful detention as an bargaining chip” and it poses a danger to safety for anyone who lives or travels abroad.

Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the National Security Council, echoed these sentimentsOn Monday sayingThat “Biden made it clear that all U.S. citizens wrongfully held abroad or hostage should be released. This includes Brittney Griner. The U.S. government continues to work aggressively—using every available means—to bring her home.”

Griner wrote to Biden requesting that he do more for Griner, and all American detainees who are being held in Russian detention. Please do everything you can to help us return home. You were my first vote in 2020. You are my hero. You can do so many good things with my freedom. I know you have a lot going on, but don’t forget me or the other American detainees. We need your help to get home..”

While Griner’s arrest and detention are possibly politically motivated—her arrest came just days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and her trial takes place as international sanctions continue to weigh on the Kremlin—the case highlights the more general issues that come with harsh drug laws. The War on Drugs CreatesIllicit markets are created for specific substances and not eradicated. Overzealous state agents can harass, attack, and violate rights of those convicted or suspected of drug possession. Individuals such as Griner can be subject to excessive punishment, despite many of the drug crimes being non-violent and generally not harmful. Griner was wrongly detained. Every person imprisoned for petty drug possession is also guilty, regardless of their international standing.

“I miss my wife!” I miss my family! It hurts me to think of my teammates! Griner shared, “It is so hard to see how they are feeling right now.” Griner wrote, “I’m grateful that you did whatever it took to bring me home.”

Griner was held in Russia since April of this year. She will be held captive in Russia longer than expected, as less than one percent of Russian trials end in an acquittal.