President Biden on Wednesday assured the wife of Brittney Griner that his administration is working to secure the WNBA star’s release from Russian detention “as soon as possible.”
Biden spoke with Cherelle Griner by phone after the White House received a hand-written plea for help earlier this week from Brittney, who was arrested at Moscow’s airport in mid-February for allegedly carrying vaporizer cartridges containing cannabis oil.
The U.S. State Department says Griner is being wrongfully detained.
During Wednesday’s call, Biden offered his support to the Phoenix Mercury center’s family and committed to providing “all possible assistance” as his administration works to secure her release, according to a White House readout of the call.
Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke by phone with Cherelle Griner on Wednesday.
Cherelle Griner has become increasingly critical of Biden for his administration’s response to her wife’s detention. She said she was grateful for the president’s call, but would keep up the pressure.
“I am grateful to the both of them for the time they spent with me and for the commitment they expressed to getting BG home,” Cherelle Griner said.
Last month, the State Department botched a call that had been scheduled for the Griners’ fourth anniversary, which was to be the first time the two had spoken in months.
Brittney Griner attempted to call a number that had been provided to her for the Saturday call 11 times but the U.S. embassy in Moscow failed to patch the call through due to a weekend staffing shortfall.
The State Department apologized for what it said was a “logistical error.”
Cherelle Griner said she had lost all trust in the U.S. government because of the mix-up.
In her letter to Biden earlier this week, Brittney Griner wrote that she was “terrified I might be here forever.”
“I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates!” the handwritten note read. “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.”
The White House confirmed Tuesday that the president had personally read the letter, but offered no indication of how he would respond.
In his call with Cherelle Griner on Wednesday, the president read a draft of the letter he plans to send in response.
The White House did not provide the contents of the president’s letter.
• This story is based in part on wire service reports.