President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on Wednesday with Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA star and Olympic champion Brittney Griner, who has been held in a Russian prison on charges of bringing cannabis oil vape cartridges into the country since February. The telephone conversation between Biden, Harris, and Cherelle Griner came only days after the president received a hand-written letter from Brittney Griner pleading with him to intervene on her behalf and that of other Americans being held by foreign governments.

“The President called Cherelle to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittneys release as soon as possible, as well as the release of Paul Whelan and other US nationals who are wrongfully detained or held hostage in Russia and around the world,” the White House said in a statement published by CNN. “He also read her a draft of the letter the President is sending to Brittney Griner today.”

The statement from the White House added that Biden “offered his support to Cherelle and Brittney’s family, and he committed to ensuring they are provided with all possible assistance while his administration pursues every avenue to bring Brittney home.”

The White House also said that Biden had responded to the letter Griner sent from Russia last week, noting that the president had received the letter on Monday’s Independence Day holiday. The statement added that Biden shared his response with Cherelle Griner during their conversation.

Basketball Star Arrested in February

Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star center who has played for the Phoenix Mercury since the 2013 season, including the team’s 2014 league championship squad. She has also twice won the Olympic gold medal with the U.S. women’s basketball team.


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