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‘I will not be quiet anymore’: Brittney Griner’s wife calls out lack of Biden action to free WNBA star from Russia detention

‘My wife is struggling, and we have to help her,’ Cherelle Griner tells Gayle King on CBS Mornings

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Tuesday 05 July 2022 17:57 BST
Brittney Griner's wife says she will not be quiet any more

Brittney Griner’s wife Cherelle has said she finds it “very disheartening” that she still has not heard back from the White House after the WNBA star sent a handwritten letter to President Joe Biden.

Ms Griner appealed directly to the president to help her efforts to win freedom from detention in Russia on alleged drug charges involving hashish oil.

Her family has had no success in contacting the president regarding the issue, which led the Phoenix Mercury centre to write to Mr Biden in person.

Speaking to Gayle King on CBS Mornings, Cherelle Griner said that when she read the letter from her wife to the president, she could sense the fear being felt having been imprisoned in Russia since February.

“She is probably the strongest person that I know, so she doesn’t say words like that lightly. That means she truly is terrified that she may never see us again. You know, I share those same sentiments,” Cherelle said.

The couple have only been in contact with each other through letters, though Cherelle confirmed to Ms King during the interview that the WNBA player was holding up mentally and had told her she was “not insane, not yet”.

Cherelle has been working with the State Department, which recently determined that Ms Griner has been wrongfully detained, and said she understands the need for care in handling the situation, but the frustration has been growing.

“Initially I was told, you know, we are going to try to reserve, we’re going to try to handle this behind scenes and let’s not raise her value and you know stay quiet. You know, I did that and respectfully, we’re over 140 days at this point. That does not work,” she said.

“So I will not be quiet anymore. I will find that balance of, you know, harm versus help in pushing our government to do everything that’s possible because being quiet, they’re not moving, they’re not doing anything. So my wife is struggling, and we have to help her.”

Excerpts of Ms Griner’s letter to President Biden were shared by her representatives. She wrote “As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever.”

In another portion, she told the president: “On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran. It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.”

She continued: “I realise you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you.”

Ms Griner added: “I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”

The athlete’s court case will resume on Thursday and the charges levelled against her can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

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