In a handwritten letter from Brittney Griner Delivered to the White House on Monday, the WNBA player wrote of how terrified she is of being locked up “forever” in Russia.
Griner’s wife Cherelle told “CBS Mornings” that when she read the letter, she could feel the fear Griner was experiencing.
“She’s probably the strongest person I know, so she doesn’t say those words lightly. That means she’s really terrified that she might never see us again. You know, I share those same feelings,” Cherelle said.
Cherelle, who has only recently spoken to her wife through letters, said she feels Griner has decided to write to President Joe Biden directly because the family has been unlucky in contacting him.
“It kills me every time, you know, when I have to write to her and she asks, ‘Have you met them yet?’ And I have to say no…I’m sure she’ll say, ‘I’m going to write to him and ask now because my family has tried in vain, so I’m going to do it myself,'” Cherelle said.
Even after yesterday’s letter was delivered, Cherelle said she had not heard from Biden directly and that she found that “very discouraging”.
Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after officials in Russia claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage. A Russian judge ordered Griner, the Phoenix Mercury center that played in Russia during the WNBA season, to remain in custody. If Griner is convicted of drug smuggling, he could face 10 years in a Russian prison. Hair process resumes on July 7
Cherelle said when she first learned that Griner was being charged by the Russian government for a “large-scale shipment of drugs,” she couldn’t believe it.
“It surprised me because I’m large-scale? I live at BG every day, and so it’s impossible. So I knew it wasn’t true the moment I heard the charge, because I know my wife. I’m like, of, no,” she said. “It’s a real shame, you know, that she’s in this position because BG doesn’t do anything on a large scale in the drug trade. It was very, very difficult to hear that charge.”
Griner’s trial began last week after several delays. Photos of Griner entering the courtroom are some of the few images Cherelle has seen of Griner. One of those photos made her worry and asked Griner if she was okay and if she was “insane” at the moment.
“I wrote to her honestly and said, ‘Hey honey, you know, I saw a picture of you, and I know there’s such a thing as propaganda, but I have to ask, I tend to ask… are you okay? you? † Are you crazy right now? Understand that if you are I still love you and when you come back we will love you very much, show yourself mercy. If you’re not crazy, please help my conscience and tell me, you know, some more context about the photo,” Cherelle recalled.
Cherelle said Brittney replied, “I was very weak at the time. But I promise you I’m not crazy, not yet,” she said. “But I was shocked because I turned the corner, and it was like hundreds of media outlets sitting there with cameras and stuff waiting.”
The US State Department, which has been working with Cherelle, said it has determined Brittney is being wrongly detained.
Cherelle said she is working diligently to ensure that her wife is released from prison and returned to the United States.
“Initially I was told, you know, we’re going to try to make reservations, we’re going to try to handle this behind the scenes and let’s not increase her value and you know, keep quiet. You know, I did that and respectfully, we’re over 140 days right now. That doesn’t work,” Cherelle said. “So I won’t be silent anymore. I’ll strike that balance between, you know, damage versus aid in pushing our government to do everything it can because they’re quiet, they don’t move, they don’t do anything. So my wife is having a hard time and we have to help her.”