President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke by phone Wednesday (July 6) with Cherelle Griner, the wife of Brittney Griner, who has been detained in a Russian prison since February.
“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 said in a readout of the call, per The Hill.
"The President 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 US nationals who are wrongfully detained or held hostage in Russia and around the world. He also read her a draft of the letter the President is sending to Brittney Griner today," the White House added, according to CNN.
Wednesday’s phone call came shortly after Griner’s wife said in a Tuesday (July 5) interview with CBS that it was “very disheartening” not to have heard from Biden directly since her wife's detainment.
Over the weekend, Brittney Griner wrote to Biden, urging him to bring her and other detainees home.
“[A]s 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 to Biden in excerpts of the letter shared publicly. "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. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home."
Griner was first detained by authorities on February 17 after vape cartridges with hashish oil were allegedly found in her bag at a Russian airport. The U.S. State Department officially deemed Griner as "wrongfully detained" in May and handed her case to the State Department Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA).
As tensions rise between the U.S. and Russia amid the invasion of Ukraine, officials have accused the country of using the WNBA player's detention as leverage.
The basketball star faces up to 10 years of prison if she's convicted of the charges against her.