Griner worried she will have to serve out her 9-year sentence in Russia: lawyer

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands behind bars in a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)

A lawyer for Brittney Griner told The New York Times in an interview that the WNBA star is growing anxious about her detainment in Russia and worries that U.S. officials will not be able to secure her release.

“She is not yet absolutely convinced that America will be able to take her home,” Griner’s attorney, Alexandr Boykov, told the Times. “She is very worried about what the price of that will be, and she is afraid that she will have to serve the whole sentence here in Russia.”

Griner was detained at an airport outside of Moscow in February after customs officials said they found two vape cartridges of hashish oil in her luggage. She was charged with attempting to smuggle drugs into Russia.

The Phoenix Mercury center was convicted in a Russian court in August and sentenced to nine years in prison. A hearing on her appeal is scheduled for Oct. 25.

Boykov told the Times that Griner is now detained in a penal colony outside of Moscow, where she is allowed outside for an hourlong walk in the courtyard. She shares a cell with two other people, and she sleeps on a bed long enough to accommodate her height.

The lawyer said that Griner is struggling emotionally because it’s been difficult to contact her relatives, including her wife, Cherelle Griner.

“She suffers a lot without her family because she hasn’t seen them for so long and it’s very difficult to talk to them in any way,” Boykov told the newspaper.

Cherelle Griner voiced concern during an interview with CBS’s Gayle King last week, telling the network host that she’s “terrified” that she won’t get her wife back.

“It’s like a movie for me. In no world would I have ever thought our president and a foreign nation president would be sitting down having to discuss the freedom of my wife,” she said. “It feels to me as if she is a hostage. … It terrifies me.”

The Biden administration and U.S. lawmakers have denounced Griner’s detainment as unlawful and has promised to take action to secure her release.

U.S. officials have reportedly proposed to exchange Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper during an interview this week that he would be willing to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia next month if he would talk about Griner’s release.

“I have no intention of meeting with him, but look, if he came to me at the G-20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I would meet with him, but that would depend,” Biden said.

Tags Biden Brittney Griner Brittney Griner Russia-Ukraine war

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