‘Brittney matters’: Wife of WNBA player imprisoned in Russia calls for public pressure to secure release
The wife of WNBA star player Brittney Griner, who has been imprisoned in Russia for four months, is asking for the public to help push for her release ahead of Griner’s impending trial.
Cherelle Griner spoke with the Rev. Al Sharpton on his radio show, “Keepin’ It Real,” on Wednesday, saying that public pressure can play a key role in securing her freedom.
“Brittney matters,” she said. “We’re never going to shut up about this until she’s back.”
Cherelle Griner said her wife is struggling “every second that goes by” and is terrified and alone. She also said she has not spoken to her since she was first incarcerated in February and gets updates through letters.
Brittney Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a U.S. Olympic gold medalist who plays for a Russian professional team during the WNBA offseason, was arrested days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at Sheremetyevo International Airport. Russian authorities said they found vape cartridges in her luggage and brought drug charges against her.
She is set to stand trial on Friday after her detention has been repeatedly extended through December. She could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, and less than 1 percent of defendants in criminal cases in Russia are acquitted, according to The Associated Press.
“Until my wife is home, there is a huge piece of me that is missing,” Cherelle Griner said.
She said federal officials have told her that securing her wife’s release is a priority and the matter is at the “highest chain of command.”
“What I’m getting is that the people that need to know are aware, but they haven’t executed and so I need them to execute this,” she said.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that Brittney Griner’s case has “the fullest attention” of President Biden and officials will not rest until she is returned home.
Cherelle Griner said she does not know what stage negotiations are in or if a deal is on the table and being debated. She said officials seem to not be able to share information because of confidentiality.
She said “nothing about this” is justice, adding the law Brittney Griner allegedly broke is “ambiguous.” She added that the potential punishment is not appropriate for the alleged crime.
“The only justice in this situation of her wrongfully being detained is for our government to execute this deal,” she said. “Stop talking about it. Stop all of the above. It just needs to be done.”