Dozens of organizations representing people of color, women and LGBTQ voters on Wednesday called on President Biden to sign an agreement to release the WNBA star Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February.
In a letter to Mr Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, the groups said that Ms Griner “continues to tolerate inhuman treatment without being able to communicate with her family.”
The letter states that the United States “has acknowledged that Brittney is essentially a political pawn who classifies him as an illegal detainee.” And while the signatories expressed “deep appreciation” for the administration’s efforts, Ms. Upon Grinner’s release, “we now recommend that you make an agreement to bring Brittney back to America immediately and safely.”
Phoenix Mercury basketball player was arrested in Russia on February 17 on charges of containing hashish in his luggage. At first, Ms Griner’s camp was worried that the public might make the situation worse because of tensions between Russia and the United States, including the war in Ukraine.
However, the group’s approach has changed since the State Department announced on May 3 that it had determined that Ms. Griner was detained incorrectly. This meant that the United States could make greater efforts to bring him home, despite the lawsuits against him in Russia.
In recent weeks, there have been WNBA players working with Ms. Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and others, trying to draw attention to his case.
The latest effort, a letter from groups including the National Organization for Women, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Urban League and the National Action Network, was coordinated by Ms Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas, who worked with Democrat strategist Karen Finney. and others. The groups representing the constituency coalition that contributed to Mr Biden’s election spoke in response to the growing frustration with Ms. Over the pace of bringing Griner home.
“I understand that they have not started negotiations on his release and that is why this letter is very powerful, because it is a very necessary support to emphasize the fact that we guys are in a phase where you should close the deal,” said Cherelle Griner.
“I want to say that I have a clear understanding of that,” he said of the White House strategy. “They talk to me a lot about the code.”
He said the administration was “discussing whether they should start negotiations” once it was established that his wife had been unduly detained. “Instead, they argue and waste time on my wife’s life.”
White House officials declined to comment.
Administrative officials have said that Mr Biden’s team is in regular contact with the Griner family and that Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken spoke to Cherelle Griner in May. The Special Envoy for Hostages is also in contact with Ms Griner’s team.
Former New Mexico Governor and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, has also sought to release Ms Griner and another American, former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been detained since 2018 in Russia.
However, Cherelle Griner said she was unsure how many White House cases she would prioritize. He told the Associated Press that he was supposed to talk to his wife on the phone for the first time in about four months over the weekend, but a logistical problem at the U.S. embassy in Moscow changed plans.
According to the AP, the embassy was supposed to facilitate the call between the two women. But when Brittney Griner called the embassy to get her wife in the United States, there was no answer. Brittney Griner’s lawyers said she tried to call 11 times while his wife waited unnecessarily for the call, the AP reported.
“I was upset. I was hurt. I was finished, tired,” Cherelle Griner told AP
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