The wife of Brittney Griner says she has spoken to her just twice by phone since her detention in Russia in February and that the W.N.B.A. star is afraid of being “left and forgotten.”
Cherelle Griner, Brittney Griner’s wife, said in an interview aired on Thursday by “CBS Mornings” that she found relief in the primary call, but she heard exhaustion and fatigue in her wife’s voice throughout the second call.
“I believe I cried for about two, three days straight,” she said. “It was probably the most disturbing phone call I’d ever experienced.”
Cherelle Griner didn’t specify when the second phone call occurred, but described her wife at the bottom emotional point that she could recall. “She’s very afraid about being left and forgotten in Russia, or simply completely used to the purpose of her detriment,” Cherelle Griner said.
Brittney Griner, 31, was stopped on drug charges at an airport near Moscow: Customs officials accused her of carrying vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage. She was returning to Russia to play for UMMC Yekaterinburg, a powerhouse skilled women’s basketball team.
In August, a Russian court sentenced her to nine years in prison.
Her detention arrived at a fragile geopolitical moment near the start of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine amid Russia’s strained diplomatic relationship with america. In May, the State Department determined that she had been wrongfully detained.
In June, the Biden administration offered to release the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner and Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who was convicted in Russia of espionage charges.
“He’s doing what he can,” Cherelle Griner said of President Biden. “But there’s one other party in this example, and we are also coping with the necessity for Russia to have mercy on B.G. as well.”
An appeal hearing for Brittney Griner is ready for Oct. 25.
“Once that hearing is held, and the order is finalized, B.G.’s now within the position where she might be moved to a labor camp,” Cherelle Griner said. “My brain can’t even fathom it.”