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President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris talk with Brittany Griner’s wife Cherrell

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke Wednesday with Cherrell Griner, wife of WNBA basketball star Brittany Griner, who is behind bars in Russia, the White House said.

Griner has been imprisoned in Russia since February and his trial began last week. The Biden administration is pressing to do more to secure his release.

The call comes two days after Griner, 31, delivered a handwritten letter to Biden at the White House, according to his family, asking the president to bring him home. “I’m afraid I may be here forever,” wrote the Phoenix Mercury player.

The White House said on Wednesday that the president and vice president “spoke today with Cherrell Griner, the wife of Brittany Griner, who has been wrongfully detained under unbearable circumstances in Russia.”

Brittany Griner and wife

Brittany Griner walks with wife Cheryl Watson after defeating the Dallas Wings at the Feld Entertainment Center on August 10, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida.

Douglas P. DEFELIS/GETTY IMAGES

The White House said Biden “asked her to reassure him that he was working for the early release of Brittany, as well as for the release of Paul Whelan and other American citizens who have been wrongfully abused in Russia and around the world.” detained or taken hostage,” the White House said. , “They also read him a draft of the letter the president is sending today to Brittany Griner.”

The White House did not share details from the president’s letter to Griner, but said the president offered his support to the Griner family on Wednesday and their commitment to making sure they get all possible help from the administration. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have previously spoken with Cherrell Griner.

Cherrell Griner told CBS Mornings On Tuesday, his wife decided to write a letter directly to Biden because the family had not been in touch with him.

“It hits me every time, you know, when I have to text her and she’s asking, ‘Have you met her yet?’ And I have to say no… I’m sure she’s like, ‘I’m going to write to her and ask right now because my family doesn’t benefit, so I’m going to do it myself,'” Cherrell said.

Griner was arrested in February at an airport near Moscow after authorities claimed his luggage contained vape cartridges containing hashish oil. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard said this week that Griner’s case would have progressed further if she had been a men’s basketball star in the NBA.

“If it was LeBron, he would be at home, right?” Nygaard said, referring to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. “It’s a statement about the value of women. It’s a statement about the value of a black man. It’s a statement about the value of a gay man. All of those things. We know, and So it hurts a little more.”

This story is basically . was published by CBS News July 6, 2022 at 2:22 p.m. ET.

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