“While sporadic, written communication from her wife, family, friends and global sport community has been a source of comfort for BG during her wrongful detainment, going without real time, regular contact with loved ones is inhumane,” Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s agent, told CNN, adding that it has been more than 105 days since the athlete “heard her wife or family’s voice.”
“It remains clear that Brittney Griner is being used as a political pawn and it is imperative that President Biden do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home quickly and safely,” she said.
Griner receives hard copies of letters that have been printed out. Emails to Griner are printed out by her attorneys and then submitted through the Russian mail system at the detention center, a source with knowledge of the arrangement tells CNN. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the communications.
Russian authorities claimed to have found cannabis oil in her luggage and accused her of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. In May, a Russian court extended the 31-year-old athlete’s pretrial detention until June 18, according to Russian state news agency TASS, which cited the press service of the court.
The SPEHA office leads and coordinates the government’s diplomatic efforts aimed at securing the release of Americans wrongfully detained abroad, and the shift to their office means more flexibility in efforts to negotiate her freedom, as they do not necessarily have to wait for Russian legal proceedings to play out.