The White House has assured this Tuesday that the pleas of Brittney Griner, the basketball star detained in Russia, do not go unnoticed. The WNBA player sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him not to forget about her and other Americans detained abroad. “It terrifies me to think that she could be here forever,” she said in the handwritten note. Karine Jean Pierre, the spokeswoman for the Democratic Administration, has confirmed that the president read the message and that he has taken the communication in a “very personal” way. Griner’s trial, 31, will continue with a second session on Thursday.
Jean Pierre has not wanted to reveal what the reaction will be to the message, which was received in Washington on Monday morning. “I was there when he read the letter,” the spokeswoman said Tuesday morning. The content of the document has not been published in its entirety, but Wasserman, the company that represents Griner, shared some fragments with the press on July 4, a date of celebration for the anniversary of the independence of the United States. “It hurts to think how I normally celebrate this date because freedom means something very different to me this year,” says the player, who was arrested in February and was accused of having introduced illegal substances (cannabis oil cartridges for smoking) into Russia in your arrival at Moscow airport.
“I know you’re dealing with a lot of things, but please don’t forget about me,” asks the center, who points out that she voted for Biden in the 2020 presidential election and that she still believes in the president. “I can still do a lot of good with the freedom that you can help me get back. I miss my wife! To my family and my colleagues! It hurts me to think how much they are suffering. I thank you for anything you can do to get her back home, ”said Griner, who has been in custody for 137 days, and who faces a sentence of ten years in prison if she is found guilty.
This Monday, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council reiterated that the United States considers that Griner was arrested “unfairly.” “The government continues to work aggressively, using all of her capabilities, to bring her back,” said Adrienne Watson. Experts in the Russian judicial system estimate that the trial against the star could last until December and believe that it is extremely difficult for her to be acquitted of the charges. Only 1% of defendants release that burden.
Many doubt that Washington takes this case as a priority. Recently, a diplomatic fiasco was revealed. The Associated Press reported last week that Griner tried to contact his wife, Cherelle Griner, with whom he hasn’t spoken in months, on Saturday, June 25. The athlete called a number provided by the US embassy in Moscow so that someone could connect her to her wife’s phone. The connection was not possible because there was no diplomat working on Saturday. The phone rang at least eleven times. Biden’s foreign minister, Antony Blinken, has apologized for this mistake to the athlete’s family.
Griner’s teammates from the professional basketball league have complained this weekend about the scant coverage that the press has given to the issue. “There is not enough outrage. Point,” said Brianna Turner, the center’s teammate, on Monday.
“If it was LeBron James or Tom Brady, this would be such a big story that it would be in the media every day,” said Sophie Cunningham, another Phoenix basketball player. The comparison makes sense. Griner is considered one of the biggest stars in the WNBA. She has won two gold medals with the US team at the Olympics. She was champion of the professional league with Phoenix in 2014 and a year before in the collegiate tournament, the NCAA, where she was part of a historic season in which her team, Baylor, went 40-0. In nine years as a professional, she has been selected to the All-Star game seven times.
Despite an impressive record, Griner had traveled to Russia to play in league basketball while the WNBA was on hiatus. This is a common practice for female athletes in the league, whose salaries are much lower than those of NBA players.
You can follow EL PAÍS Sports in Facebook y Twitterthe apuntarte here to receive our weekly newsletter.