By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
(NNPA) – One day after the wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner expressed frustration that the family hadn’t heard from the White House, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner.
The White House said Biden called Cherelle to “reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney’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.”
In a July 4 letter, Brittney Griner pleaded with Biden to help free her and others held in Russia.
“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,” Griner wrote.
“I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. So I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.” Griner has been held in Russia since her February arrest at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after authorities allegedly found cannabis oil in her luggage.
If convicted, Griner faces up to ten years in prison. Reportedly, fewer than 1% of defendants in criminal cases win acquittal in Russia.
Moreover, even if Griner wins acquittal, the Russian government has the right to overturn any decision and remand her to prison.
She pleaded with Biden, “Please do all you can to bring us home. “I voted for the first time in 2020, and I voted for you. I believe in you.”
Afterward, Cherelle expressed frustration in a nationally televised interview with the Biden administration, saying she hadn’t heard from the President.
“It kills me every time that you know when I have to write her, and she’s asking, ‘Have you met with them yet?’ And I have to say no… I’m sure she is like, ‘I’m going to write him and ask now because my family has tried to no avail, so I’m going to do it myself,’” Cherelle told CBS Mornings earlier in the week.
The White House said Biden shared a draft of a letter he planned to send to Brittney.
“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,” The White House stated.
“[The] call follows calls that National Security Advisor Sullivan and Secretary of State Blinken have had with Cherelle in recent weeks and this past weekend.
“The President directed his national security team to remain in regular contact with Cherelle and Brittney’s family, and with other families of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad, to keep them updated on efforts to secure the release of their loved ones as quickly as possible.”
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), known as the Black Press of America, is the federation of more than 200 Black community newspapers in the United States.