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Brittney Griner: Wife Cherelle pushes Pres. Biden to free WNBA star from Russian prison during ‘Good Morning America’ interview

Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle, wants President Joe Biden to secure the release of her partner, doing whatever it takes to get the WNBA star back home from Russia, where he has been held for more than three months.

“I just keep hearing that, you know, he has the power. He’s a political pawn,” said Cherelle, who was shocked to learn little about Griner’s detention during an interview Wednesday with Good Morning America. “Well, if they keep it because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it.”

The center of the Phoenix Mercury has been in custody since February 17 after steam canisters containing cannabis oil were found in its luggage at an airport near Moscow.

Greener, 31, a two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist, faces charges of drug trafficking that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Earlier this month, the Biden government said Greener was being held unjustly.

Cherelle has spoken with Secretary of State Antony Blinken about Griner’s case, but not the president.

“I was grateful for the call, you say it’s her first priority, but I want to see it. And I feel like I want to see BG on American soil,” Cherelle said in her first public interview. “At this point I do not even know who I will take back when he returns.”

RELATED: Brittney Griner is believed to have been illegally detained in Russia, US officials say

Russian officials have described Greiner’s case as a criminal offense without political affiliation. But the Moscow war in Ukraine has brought US-Russia relations to a lower level since the Cold War.

Despite the tension, Russia and the United States held an unexpected exchange of detainees last month – exchanging former Marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for conspiracy to commit conspiracy.

Although the United States does not usually engage in such exchanges, it did so in part because Yaroshenko had already served much of his sentence.

The Russians may consider Griner someone who could take part in another such exchange.

In addition to Griner, another American considered unjustly detained in Russia is Paul Whelan, a corporate security officer from Michigan. Whelan was arrested in December 2018 while attending a friend’s wedding and later sentenced to 16 years in prison on charges related to espionage, according to his family, false.

SEE MORE: “I fought”: Trevor Reed talks about how he survived almost 3 years in a Russian prison

“Although they are separate people, separate roles, nothing more than what they go through in Russia, you know, obviously I want him back,” Cherelle said. “You do not want anyone to be there, to go through what is going on.”

Cherelle, who graduated from North Carolina Central University Law School earlier this month, has not spoken to Griner on the phone since the day she was first detained.

“I first heard the news through Brittney, actually. It started texting me around 2 in the morning that morning,” Cherelle said. “”My baby. My baby. Wake up. They have me in this room. I do not know what is going on. “And so I immediately answer,” Who are they and which room? “

Cherelle said Griner responded by sending a message: “Customs. They just grabbed me as I passed and they have me in this room.” Greene then sent a message saying, “They’re going to take my phone.”

Cherelle said she told Griner to call her when she could. He is still waiting for this phone call almost 100 days later.

“The first week I lay on this couch and my eyes were watering. I was numb. I could not move,” Cherelle said. And then I said, ‘You have to get up now.’

SEE ALSO: US embassy in Moscow says WNBA player “in good condition”

Cherelle and Brittney communicate through letters and their lawyers. Lawyers print articles to show Greiner so she can keep up to date.

Initially, Greener’s friends and teammates were reluctant to talk about her condition for fear of interfering in the ongoing negotiations for her release. However, they began to speak carefully before the Women’s Final Four in early April, as her detention gained more national attention.

Cherelle became emotional when she talked about support and how she helps Griner stay strong during the fight for her release. The WNBA recognized the absence of the center Mercury, 6 feet, putting a label with the initials and its number on the floor of all 12 teams.

“It relieves BG,” Cherelle said. “Let her know that she has not been forgotten and … when you sit there, your country … has not come … to save you yet. I know it makes her feel good, because she does it I do not want to be forgotten .

“Such things matter, as she hopes,” Cherelle added. “It lets her know that she has not been forgotten. These little moments, I know, give her some kind of hope.”

Cherelle said that prior to booking, Griner’s experience playing in Russia for the past nine years was excellent. He was returning to the country after the Russian championship took a break for the FIBA ​​World Cup qualifier when he was held.

“You know you are a CAPRICORN if you can really play in Russia … in the team that BG plays,” Cherelle said. “They treat them like superstars.”

Griner, who won an NCAA Championship in Baylor, earns over $ 1 million by playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg to supplement her WNBA income where she earns a maximum base salary of $ 228,000. Top players like Griner can win up to $ 500,000 in WNBA salaries, bonuses and marketing contracts.

“BG would wholeheartedly want to not go abroad,” Cherelle said. “He’s only had a Thanksgiving in the (United States) nine years since he was a professional.”

The WNBA and US officials are working to secure her release, with no visible progress. A U.S. consular official was able to meet with Greener last week.

“We noticed that a consular officer at our embassy in Moscow was able to visit Britney Greiner on the sidelines of her hearing in Moscow that day,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday. “We have pointed out that one-off consular visits, in our view, are not sufficient.

“But not only in our view, but also in the requirements proposed by the Vienna Convention and other bilateral agreements that stipulate that we should have regular, constant access to Americans detained around the world, including those in pre-trial detention “.

AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Brittney Griner: Wife Cherelle pushes Pres. Biden to free WNBA star from Russian prison during ‘Good Morning America’ interview Source link Brittney Griner: Wife Cherelle pushes Pres. Biden to free WNBA star from Russian prison during ‘Good Morning America’ interview

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