In her first interview since the basketball player was given a nine-year prison sentence for drug possession by a Russian court in August, Cherelle Griner said her wife, WNBA star Brittney Griner, is being held “hostage.”
On the surface, it appears that Cherelle Griner told “CBS Mornings co-host Gayle King‘s wife is being held prisoner. To be aware that the negotiations for her release between our administration and the foreign government are ongoing? She is a prisoner.
The interview was conducted less than three weeks before Brittney Griner’s appeal of her nine-year prison term would be heard by a Russian court. Russian authorities allegedly found Griner in possession of cannabis-derived vape cartridges in a Moscow airport in February, leading to the sentence.
The defense of Griner claimed that she utilized the marijuana to cure wounds. Russia forbids the use of medical marijuana.
Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star, was in Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg of the Russian Premier League, as she had done every year since 2014. This is customary for WNBA players, who may make four to five times as much money abroad as they do in the United States.
According to Cherelle Griner, a lawyer, “a crime should deserve a punishment,” but “it must be balanced,” King was told.
She remarked, “It breaks my heart to know that this is not balanced for my wife right now.
Two phone calls with Brittney while she has been imprisoned, according to Cherelle, who called the most recent one “the most unsettling phone call I’d ever experienced.”
Brittney’s distress was audible, according to Cherelle, who also mentioned that her wife cried for between 30 and two minutes during the call.
She said, “If you think about a person suffering alone, and when they have suffered to the fullest, like you could hear that, like, she was at the max that day.
On that call, Cherelle stated she was unsure about Brittney’s ability to “continue to wake up every day and be in a position where she has no one” because she “has anything left in her tank.”
After the call, according to Cherelle, she cried for two to three days and hardly left her bed.
Cherelle claimed Brittney is “at her very worst time in life now” before to her hearing on October 25.
She’s saying things to me like, “My life simply doesn’t even matter any more,” so she’s extremely concerned about being abandoned in Russia or being utterly used to the point of her disadvantage, King said.
In actuality, she is now in a position where she might be transferred to a labor camp after the hearing is conducted and the order is issued. And, I’m at a loss for words,” Cherelle continued.
She informed King that although she believes President Joe Biden, who has spoken to Cherelle on the phone and in person, is “doing everything he can” to obtain her release, doing so would ultimately necessitate the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“At this point, I think Putin needs to adopt the same approach and say, “You know what? Brittney Griner, who lived in my country for seven or eight years and contributed by paying taxes and promoting my nation through sport. So that we can truly get an understanding between these two governments, I’m going to sit down and be transparent about what I require in exchange for her freedom,’ she said.
According to NBC News, the United States offered to swap Griner for Paul Whelan, another American being held by Russia, in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms trader who is currently serving a 25-year prison term.
Russia declared in August that it was prepared to consider the idea of a swap after Griners’ sentencing, but U.S. officials claim the Russians have not yet made a significant counteroffer.