In a handwritten letter fromthat was delivered to the White House on Monday, the WNBA player wrote how terrified she is that she may be imprisoned in Russia “forever.”
Griner’s wife Cherelle told “CBS Mornings” that when she read the letter, she could feel the fear that Griner was experiencing.
“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.
Cherelle, who has only spoken recently to her wife through letters, said she feels that Griner decided to write to President Joe Biden directly because the family has had no luck in contacting him.
“It kills me every time that, you know, when I have to write her and she’s asking, ‘Have you met with them yet?’ And I have to say no… I’m sure she is like ‘I’m going to write him and ask now because my family has tried to no avail, so I’m going to do it myself,'” said Cherelle.
Even after yesterday’s letter was delivered, Cherelle said she has not heard from Biden directly and she said that is “very disheartening.”
Grinerat 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 who played in Russia during the WNBA off-season, to remain in custody. If convicted on drug smuggling charges, Griner could face 10 years in a Russian prison. Her on July 7.
Cherelle said when she first heard about Griner being charged by the Russian government for a “large-scale transportation of drugs,” she couldn’t believe it.
“It blew my mind because I’m like large-scale? I live with B.G. every day, and so there’s no way possible. So I knew it wasn’t true the minute that I heard the charge because I know my wife. I’m like, no,” she said “It’s very unfortunate, you know, that she’s in this position because B.G. does not large-scale do anything in traffic of drugs. It was very very hard to hear that charge.”
Griner’s trial started last week after several delays. Photos of Griner entering the courtroom are some of the only visuals that Cherelle has seen of Griner. One of those photos caused her to worry and made her ask Griner if she was ok and if she was “insane at this point.”
“I honestly wrote her and was like, “Hey honey, you know, I saw a picture of you, and I know there’s such thing as propaganda, but I have to ask, I’m inclined to ask… are you okay? Are you insane at this point? Understand that if you are, I still love you and when you come back, we will love you back whole, show yourself grace. If you are not insane, please help my conscience and kind of tell me, you know, some more context about the picture,'” Cherelle recalled asking.
Cherelle said Brittney responded: ‘I was very weak at that moment. But I promise I’m not insane, not yet’ she said. ‘But I was startled because I turned the corner, and it was like hundreds of media just sitting there with cameras and things waiting.'”
The U.S. Department of State, which has been working with Cherelle, said that it determined that Brittney is being wrongfully detained.
Cherelle said that she is working carefully to ensure that her wife is released from prison and is returned to the United States.
“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,” Cherelle 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.”