Brittney Griner’s wife tells ABC she wants WNBA star home
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AP Basketball Writer
Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle, wants President Joe Biden to secure her partner’s release, doing whatever is necessary to get the WNBA star home from Russia where she has been detained for more than three months.
“I just keep hearing that, you know, he has the power. She’s a political pawn, “ said Cherelle, who became emotional detailing what little she knows about Griner’s detainment during an interview that aired Wednesday on Good Morning America. “So if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it.”
The Phoenix Mercury center has been detained since Feb. 17 after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow.
The 31-year-old Griner — a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the U.S. — faces drug smuggling charges that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Earlier this month, the Biden administration said Griner is being wrongfully detained.
Cherelle has talked with Secretary of State Antony Blinken about Griner’s case, but not the president.
“I was grateful for the call, you say she’s top priority, but I wanna see it. and I feel like to see it would be me seeing BG on U.S. soil,” Cherelle said in her first public interview. “At this point I don’t even know who I’m getting back when she comes back.”
Russian officials have described Griner’s case as a criminal offense without making any political associations. But Moscow’s war in Ukraine has brought U.S.-Russia relations to the lowest level since the Cold War.
Despite the strain, Russia and the United States carried out an unexpected prisoner exchange last month — trading former Marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
While the U.S. does not typically embrace such exchanges, it made the deal in part because Yaroshenko had already served a long portion of his sentence.
The Russians may consider Griner someone who could figure into another such exchange.
The WNBA and U.S. officials have been working toward her release, without visible progress. A U.S. consular officer was able to meet with Griner last week.