(Reuters) – U.S. women’s basketball star Brittney Griner made a direct appeal to President Joe Biden to defend her in a letter sent to the White House on Monday while she remains in detention in Russia on drug-related charges. .
Griner, who was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17 when a search of her luggage allegedly found several cartridges of cannabis oil, went on trial on Friday and faces up to 10 years in prison in Russia.
The case takes place against a backdrop of high tension between Moscow and Washington over the conflict in Ukraine. US officials say Griner was wrongfully detained.
“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 am terrified of staying here forever,” she wrote in a letter, according to excerpts. shared by their representatives.
“On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the servicemen who fought for our freedom, including my father, who is a Vietnam War veteran.”
“It hurts to think about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”
Griner, who competes in the US Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) but also regularly plays in Russia, was formally informed at the first hearing that she was accused of intentionally importing drugs into Russia.
The judge set the next hearing for July 7.
“I know you’re dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American detainees. Please do your best to get us home,” added Griner.
(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska, in Gdansk)
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