REFUSED: Megan Rapinoe ‘asked Joe Biden to do MORE to free Brittney Griner’ when he called her with the news she was to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
- Brittney Griner (31) has been held as a prisoner in Russia since February 7
- Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison for being convicted of drug possession after bringing cannabis oil vape cartridges into the country
- The US and Russia are in “quiet diplomacy” talks about a prisoner swap
US soccer star Megan Rapinoe urged President Joe Biden in a phone call last month to do more to secure the release of Brittney Griner from her detention in Russia.
According to Politico, Rapinoe made the request when Biden called her to inform her that she would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest honor given to a civilian in America.
When Rapinoe attended the ceremony at the White House on July 7, she wore a blazer with Griner’s initials emblazoned on the lapel.
Earlier in August, Griner (31) was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia after being convicted of drug possession and smuggling.
Griner brought cannabis oil vape cartridges to Russia when she flew to Moscow to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason.
Biden condemned the ruling as “unacceptable”, and the ruling came amid rising tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine. There have been many reports that Griner may now be involved in a high-profile prisoner exchange between the two countries.
Megan Rapinoe reportedly told President Biden to do more to free Brittney Griner
Griner has been in Russia since February and was recently sentenced to nine years in prison for bringing vape cartridges into the country that contained cannabis oil
But Rapinoe, 37, still took the opportunity to tell Biden to secure Griner’s release as quickly as possible.
Politico says Biden called Griner’s wife, Cherelle, days after speaking with Rapinoe.
Rapinoe also called on Biden to step up efforts to free Griner in a speech at the ESPYs in July.
“We love her, we miss her, we’re doing everything we can to get her out,” Rapinoe said. “BG deserves to be free, she is being held as a political prisoner – obviously.
“Every time we see BG’s face, every time we say her name in interviews, it puts pressure on everyone. it puts pressure on the administration, on Russia and lets BG know that we are thinking of her all the time.
“We haven’t done enough, all of us, we can do more, we can support her more.”
Cherelle Griner has previously outlined frustration with how the Biden administration is handling Griner’s situation.
Biden reportedly contacted Griner’s broad, Cherelle, shortly after speaking with Rapinoe
Griner appears to be part of discussions about a prisoner swap with Russia and the United States
In a speech in June, she said: “I wish I could say that I have a clear understanding (of the White House’s strategy to free her). They talk a lot in code with me.’
Since then, reports have emerged of a possible prisoner swap involving Griner and Paul Whelan, a former US Marine held in Russia.
Griner has been arrested since 17 February. Earlier this week, her legal team in Russia appealed her conviction.
On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it was engaged in “quiet diplomacy” over a possible swap between Griner.
“Quiet diplomacy is underway and it should bear fruit if Washington follows through and does not fall into propaganda through media hype to score points before an election,” said Ivan Nechayev, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, referring to the midterm elections in November.
Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a star player in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) – she plays for the Phoenix Mercury.