The wife of jailed WNBA star Brittney Griner said Tuesday that President Joe Biden has not yet answered her desperate plea for help getting out of a Russian jail cell and back to the United States.
Cherelle Griner made an appearance Tuesday on “CBS Mornings,” where she discussed Griner’s detention – the WNBA all-star and two time Olympic champion has been held in Russia since February on cannabis possession charges — and her attempts to get home or at least make contact with family.
"They’re not moving, they’re not doing anything," Cherelle Griner tells Gayle King the government is not helping to get Brittney Griner home — and she says Biden hasn't answered her wife's desperate plea for help. pic.twitter.com/Z0CbCc2MTD
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CBS anchor Gayle King opened the interview by reading an excerpt of the letter Griner sent to the White House on July 4th, begging for help and revealing that she feared her situation could become permanent.
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote to Biden.
“What terrifies you when you hear her say that?” King turned the question to Cherelle.
“It breaks my heart when I hear her say that because B.G. is probably the strongest person that I know, so she doesn’t say words like that lightly,” Cherelle replied. “That means she truly is terrified that she may never see us again. You know, I share those same sentiments.”
King went on to ask why Griner had written directly to the president — to which Cherelle said that multiple attempts to contact her family members had fallen apart and she believed Griner had ultimately decided to take matters into her own hands.
“Why did she decide on the Fourth of July? I thought that was an interesting choice,” King continued.
“You know, I would have to say, you know, it’s probably because B.G., she cherishes the Fourth of July. Her dad was in the Vietnam War,” Cherelle said, going on to note that she hadn’t spoken to her wife in over four months — and the one phone call they finally got approved was a misfire when call went to an unmanned desk.
King then asked whether the strategy — with regard to getting government assistance with Griner’s case — had changed at all, and Cherelle said that it definitely had.
“So everything about this is a calculation for me because I have to walk the fine line of, you know, harm versus help when it comes to my wife right now. So as much as I want to, you know, advocate for her and push for our government to do everything, I also have to take into account she’s in a position where she could be harmed also by any and everything I do,” Cherelle explained. “And so it’s a thin line to walk, and initially I was told, you know, just — we’re going to try to reserve — you know, we’re going to try to handle this behind the scenes and let’s not raise her value and stay quiet. You know, I did that, and, respectfully, we’re over 140 days at this point. That does not work. And 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 are not moving, they are not doing anything. So my wife is struggling, and we have to help her.”
King concluded the interview with one final question about the letter and Griner’s direct plea to President Biden, asking, “have you heard from the White House since the letter was delivered to President Biden? In her letter she said the first time she voted was in 2020, and that vote was for President Biden. Have you heard from him?”
“I still have not heard from him. And, honestly, it’s very disheartening,” Cherelle replied.