Amid heightened pressure from imprisoned WNBA star Brittney Griner and her family for the White House to do more to get her out of prison in Russia, the Rev. Al Sharpton urged the Biden administration to arrange a meeting for him and other religious leaders with the two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist, Business Insider reported on Tuesday.
Sharpton said in a press release on Tuesday that he is "deeply concerned about Griner's physical, mental, and spiritual well-being," adding that "she deserves to see the United States is doing something for her, so she can find the strength as this show trial goes on."
Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury who plays for a Russian professional team during the WNBA offseason, has been imprisoned in Russia for more than four months since she was arrested on drug charges and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, The Hill reported.
Griner, whose trial started on Friday, was arrested shortly before Moscow invaded Ukraine in February.
At first the Biden administration quietly worked to negotiate her release and return to the U.S., but in May it officially designated her as "wrongfully detained," which an expert told Business Insider sends a "strong signal that the U.S. government does not believe that there is a legitimate case against her."
This designation also enabled her supporters to openly press for her return to the U.S.
Sharpton spoke with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, last week on his radio show, where she said that federal officials assured her that securing Griner's release is at the "highest chain of command," but had not received details of an update of the situation.
On Monday, a handwritten letter that Griner wrote to President Joe Biden was delivered, pressing him not to forget about her or other imprisoned Americans abroad and that she is "terrified I might be here forever."
Sharpton said he wants Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to set up the meeting to permit him and other religious leaders to pray over Brittney, stressing in his statement that "four months is too long for this to have gone on, and I hope the president acts on her pleas to come home," he said.
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