REVEALED: Megan Rapinoe ‘told Joe Biden to do MORE to free Brittney Griner’ when he called her with the message she would 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 drug possession charges after bringing cartridges of cannabis oil into the country
- The United States and Russia are in “quiet diplomacy” talks over a prisoner swap
US soccer star Megan Rapinoe called on President Joe Biden in a phone call last month to do more to secure the release of Brittney Griner from her custody in Russia.
According to Politico, Rapinoe made the request when Biden called her to say she would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest honor bestowed on a civilian in America.
When Rapinoe attended the White House ceremony on July 7, she wore a blazer with Griner’s initials on the lapel.
Griner, 31, was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia in early August after being convicted of drug possession and smuggling.
Griner brought vape cartridges of cannabis oil to Russia when she flew to Moscow to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg during the WNBA off-season.
Biden condemned the ruling as “unacceptable,” with the verdict coming amid rising US-Russia tensions over Ukraine. There have been numerous reports that Griner could now be involved in a high-profile prisoner swap between the two countries.
Megan Rapinoe reportedly urged President Biden to do more to secure Brittney Griner’s release
Griner has been held in Russia since February and was recently sentenced to nine years in prison after bringing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil into the country
But Rapinoe, 37, still took her opportunity to tell Biden to get Griner’s release as soon as possible.
Politico says Biden called Griner’s wife, Cherelle, in the days after speaking with Rapinoe.
Rapinoe also urged Biden, in a speech at the ESPY Awards in July, to step up efforts to get Griner released.
“We love them, we miss them, we’re doing everything we can to get them out,” Rapinoe said. “BG deserves to be free, she’s 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 and on Russia and lets BG know we think of them all the time.
“We haven’t done enough, all of us, we can do more, we can support them more.”
Cherelle Griner has previously expressed her frustration at how the Biden administration is handling Griner’s situation.
Biden reportedly contacted Griners Wide, Cherelle, shortly after speaking to Rapinoe
Griner appears to be involved in prisoner swap talks with Russia and the US
In June, she said: “I wish I could say I have a clear understanding[of the White House’s strategy to free her]. You talk to me a lot in code.’
Since then, reports have surfaced of a possible prisoner swap involving Griner and Paul Whelan, a former US Marine being held in Russia.
Griner has been held since February 17. 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 the potential exchange with Griner.
“Quiet diplomacy is underway and should bear fruit if Washington follows suit, rather than being turned into propaganda through media frenzy to score points ahead of an election,” said Ivan Nechayev, a spokesman for Russia’s foreign ministry, referring to the midterm elections in Russia November.
Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star player – she plays for Phoenix Mercury.