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Biden Speaks to Brittney Griner’s Wife, Cherelle, About Russia

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on Wednesday with Cherelle Griner, the spouse of the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner. Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia on drug costs since February, and her trial started Friday.

During the decision, Biden learn a draft of a letter he deliberate to ship to Brittney Griner.

“The president offered his support to Cherelle and Brittney’s family, and he committed to ensuring they are provided with all possible assistance while his administration pursues every avenue to bring Brittney home,” in accordance to a press release launched by the White House.

The U.S. State Department stated in May that Brittney Griner had been “wrongfully detained.” It will work to safe her launch whatever the final result of the trial.

“I am grateful to the both of them for the time they spent with me and for the commitment they expressed to getting B.G. home,” Cherelle Griner stated of Biden and Harris in a press release to The New York Times on Wednesday.

Brittney Griner has been in custody in Russia since Feb. 17, accused by the Russian authorities of getting a vape cartridge with cannabis oil in her baggage at an airport close to Moscow. On Monday, Brittney Griner sent a handwritten letter to Biden pleading for his assist.

“I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner stated in an excerpt from the letter shared by her representatives. She continued: “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.”

In her assertion, Cherelle Griner thanked her spouse’s supporters.

“While I will remain concerned and outspoken until she is back home, I am hopeful in knowing that the president read my wife’s letter and took the time to respond,” Cherelle Griner stated. “I know B.G. will be able to find comfort in knowing she has not been forgotten.”

Wednesday’s assertion from the White House described Brittney Griner as “wrongfully detained in Russia under intolerable circumstances.”

It additionally stated that Biden had instructed his nationwide safety workforce to preserve “regular contact” with Griner’s household and that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s nationwide safety adviser, had spoken with Cherelle Griner lately.

In the previous a number of weeks, Cherelle Griner had publicly expressed frustration with Biden and his administration’s efforts to safe her spouse’s launch.

On Tuesday, Cherelle Griner appeared on “CBS Mornings” and spoke about her disappointment that Brittney Griner’s household had not acquired a reply from the president to Brittney Griner’s letter.

“I will not be quiet anymore,” Cherelle Griner stated. “My wife is struggling, and we have to help her.”

The ladies have been ready to talk with one another solely by letters. In June, Cherelle Griner told The Associated Press {that a} scheduled name with Brittney Griner by no means bought by to her due to a staffing subject on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. She stated she had not spoken to her spouse for the reason that day she was detained.

Experts stated Brittney Griner’s trial was possible to finish in a conviction. She faces up to 10 years in a penal colony if she is convicted.

“There’s a bias mainly because the Russian judicial system says they really should not go to trial unless the defendant is going to be convicted,” stated William Pomeranz, the performing director of the Kennan Institute and an professional on Russian legislation. “There’s no real idea or expectation that the defendant could be innocent. There’s no presumption of innocence, really.”

One pathway to securing the discharge of an American detained overseas is a prisoner swap, which specialists imagine is the most certainly state of affairs for Griner’s launch.

A Kremlin spokesman has denied that Brittney Griner’s imprisonment is politically motivated, however Russian media outlets have linked Griner’s case to that of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms supplier who’s serving a 25-year federal-prison sentence.

Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine who had been imprisoned in Russia on assault costs since August 2019, was launched in a prisoner swap in April. Reed had been sentenced to 9 years in jail in July 2020.

In her assertion Wednesday, Cherelle Griner requested for prayers for her household and the households of others wrongfully detained.

“Our pain remains active until our loved ones are brought home,” she stated. “Let’s continue to use our voices to speak the names of all the wrongfully detained Americans and support the administration as they do what it takes to bring them home today.”

The U.S. State Department has warned Americans towards touring to Russia due to the conflict in Ukraine, the “potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials” and “the singling out of U.S. citizens in Russia by Russian government security officials including for detention,” amongst different causes.

Griner was in Russia as a result of she performed for UMMC Yekaterinburg, a workforce identified for being among the many highest paying ladies’s basketball groups on the earth. She makes extra there than she does taking part in for the W.N.B.A.

Griner has performed for the W.N.B.A.’s Phoenix Mercury for the reason that franchise drafted her first general in 2013. She received a W.N.B.A. championship in 2014 and has received two gold medals with the U.S. ladies’s nationwide basketball workforce.

After Griner’s detention, these supporting her initially have been suggested not to draw an excessive amount of consideration to the scenario in hopes that her detention wouldn’t be politicized. Russia has lengthy had a frosty relationship with the United States, and it invaded Ukraine quickly after Griner was detained.

But when the U.S. State Department stated in May that Griner had been wrongfully detained, that technique modified. Cherelle Griner, W.N.B.A. officers and W.N.B.A. gamers have been talking out. W.N.B.A. groups are honoring Griner this season with decals of her initials and jersey quantity, 42, on every of the league’s 12 courts.

In June, whereas in Washington for a recreation, members of the Mercury met with State Department officials and members of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. They additionally met with representatives Greg Stanton, Democrat of Arizona; Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas; and Colin Allred, Democrat of Texas, who had launched a decision calling for Griner’s launch.

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