Brittney Griner’s wife meets Joe Biden as WNBA star remains locked in ‘gruelling’ Russian prison
The wife of basketball player Brittney Griner, who has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison, met with US president Joe Biden to discuss her release.
Cherelle Griner married Brittney – a professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) – in 2019.
Cherelle described the past seven months without her wife Brittney as “gruelling”, and took to Instagram to write: “I want to thank President Biden for yesterday’s meeting as well as the Administration for its efforts to secure my wife’s release.
“It was an honor to speak with him directly about the Brittney we know and love. I’ve felt every minute of the grueling seven months without her. I look forward to the day my wife is back home.”
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On 4 August Brittney was found guilty of an attempt to smuggle drugs into the country.
A nine-year sentence was handed to her by judge Anna Sotnikova of the Khimki Court, along with a fine of one million rubles, which is equivalent to more than £14,400.
On 15 August, Maria Blagovolina, a partner at Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Partners – the law firm that is representing Griner – filed an appeal against the verdict.
Cherelle’s Instagram post added: “As my family and I continue on this journey, I’d like to thank the broad coalition of friends, leaders and supporters who continue to stand with us and advocate for Brittney’s swift and safe return.
“Let’s share a unified commitment to bringing all Americans home to their families and loved ones. Together We Are BG.”
The two-time Olympic medal winner was detained in February at an airport near Moscow after Russian authorities accused her of having a vape cartridge with hash oil in her luggage.
Initially Griner’s lawyers hoped to soften the sentencing by having her plead guilty.
But this failed and the hefty sentence reignited calls for the Joe Biden administration to do more to secure Griner’s freedom, with the White House offering a deal to exchange convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner’s release.
On 7 July Griner pleaded guilty at Khimiki Court to drug charges but denied deliberately breaking the law.
A change.org petition linked on Cherelle’s Instagram page aims to secure Brittney’s “swift and safe return to the US”.
The petition is addressed to The White House, US Department of State and president Biden, and it so far has more than 387,820 signatures but aims to reach 500,000.
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