The release of Brittney Griner, prisoner in Russia, is a “priority” for Biden

The release of Brittney Griner, a prisoner in Russia, is a “priority ;” for Biden


Freeing Brittney Griner, imprisoned in Russia since February for drug smuggling, is a “priority” for Joe Biden, his spokeswoman assured Tuesday, indicating, rather tersely, that the president had read the letter sent by the American female basketball star. 

“The president read the letter,” said Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday during her daily press briefing, without expanding on Joe Biden's reaction to this missive with painful overtones.

“This subject is a priority for the president” and he “is doing everything he can,” the White House spokeswoman said.

The Phoenix Mercury player was arrested in February upon arrival at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in possession, according to the indictment, of vaporizers and a cannabis-based liquid.

The double Olympic gold medalist with the United States (2016-2020) came to Russia to play there during the American off-season, a common practice for basketball players who sometimes earn a better living abroad than at home.

She appeared on July 1 before a court near Moscow for her trial, which was finally adjourned to Thursday July 7.

The case is politically very sensitive, at a time when relations are at their worst between the United States and Russia, because of the invasion of Ukraine.

“Sitting here in a prison Russian, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, my family, my friends, my Olympic jersey or anything I have achieved, I am terrified of the idea of ​​being here forever” , wrote the two-time Olympic basketball champion.

“I know very well that you have to face a lot of things, but please don't forget us, me and the other American prisoners”, implores the player of the Mercury of Phoenix in this letter symbolically deposited at the White House on Monday, the day of Independence Day of the United States.

Karine Jean-Pierre did not, however, give more concrete indications on what the American administration is doing, pointing out only that several senior officials were in regular contact with the family of the champion and in particular with his wife Cherelle Griner.

“We want to end this practice, whether in Russia or any other country, of unlawfully detaining Americans or foreign nationals for political gain,” department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday. of State.

Asked about criticism from Brittney Griner's family or teammates, who believe that the mobilization should be stronger, he assured that the Biden administration does not want to “do or say anything that could jeopardize” the chances of a release.

“We understand of course the desire of the families to draw as much attention to their affairs as possible”, assured Ned Price .

Brittney Griner's teammates lamented the lack of attention, particularly from the media.

“The outrage is not strong enough,” said Brianna Turner, on the sidelines of a game against the Los Angeles Sparks.

“If it was LeBron James or Tom Brady it would make the big titles every day”, criticized Sophie Cunningham, another player.