(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Brittney Griner’s wife to discuss efforts to release the WNBA star, who has been detained in Russia since February, according to the White House.
“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 U.S. nationals who are wrongfully detained or held hostage in Russia and around the world,” the White House said in a statement, adding that Biden will respond to a letter from Griner on Wednesday. “He also read her a draft of the letter the president is sending to Brittney Griner today.”
Biden received a handwritten letter from Brittney Griner on Monday, expressing her fear that she may be in Russian custody “forever.”
“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,” Brittney Griner wrote.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday that Brittney Griner’s letter was “very personal” to the president.
Russian officials took Brittney Griner into custody at Sheremetyevo International Airport on Feb. 17 after she was accused of having vape cartridges containing hashish oil, which are illegal in the country. Her trial, which began on July 1, is expected to run through Dec. 20.
While National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have been in communication with Cherelle Griner, she has been vocal about her push for the president to get involved.
“There is one person that can go get her, and that’s our president,” she said in an interview with ESPN.
In May, Cherelle Griner sat down with Robin Roberts to discuss her fight to bring her wife home.
“You say she’s top priority, but I want to see it. And I feel like to see it would be me seeing BG on U.S. soil,” Cherelle Griner said in an interview.
ABC News’ Shannon Crawford, Ben Gittleson, and Tanya Stukalova contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.