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Brittney Griner was detained by Russia on Feb. 17 and has since remained incarcerated by their officials for over three months. Cherelle Griner, wife of the WNBA superstar, said that Brittney texted her when she was first taken into custody, but the phone was apprehended soon after.
On Tuesday, Cherelle Griner spoke to “Good Morning America.”
She told “GMA” co-anchor Robin Roberts that the support her wife has gotten from the WNBA has brought Brittney “comfort” amid her highly publicized detention in Russia.
WNBA honors Brittney Griner.
The WNBA, which kicked off its 2022 season on May 6, is honoring Griner with a floor decal bearing her initials and jersey number (42) on the sideline of all 12 WNBA teams.
“Things like that matter, like, it has her hopeful,” Cherelle Griner told Roberts. “It lets her know she’s not forgotten.”
Brittney Griner was charged with “large-scale transportation of drugs” and could face up to 10 years in prison, according to The New York Times. Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was visiting Russia in February to play basketball during the off-season.
America’s pay gap drove Brittney Griner from home to a country at war.
Because of the enormous pay gap between NBA and WNBA stars which often reflects gender pay gaps in our society, players like Brittney Griner are often incentivized to play overseas as opposed to home to earn more money. Yet on Feb. 17, she was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow for allegedly having vape cartridges in her luggage that contained hashish oil — an illegal substance in Russia.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began one week after Griner was detained. Many have speculated that Americans jailed in Russia could be used as leverage in the ongoing conflict. In particular, a famous one like Griner.
Brittney has been seen, but not by wife.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said last Friday that a U.S. consular officer was able to meet with Griner on Thursday, May 19, for the second time in a week. Price said the official “found her continuing to do as well as could be expected under these exceedingly challenging circumstances.”
While Cherelle has spoken with Price and Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken — she wants Brittney back home.
“You say she’s top priority, but I wanna see it, and I feel like to see it would be me seeing BG on U.S. soil,” she said.
Calls to free Brittney Griner escalated following the release of U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed last month, who was freed from a Russian prison as part of a prisoner exchange.
According to “GMA“, Russian media have reported that the U.S. and Russia are discussing the possibility of exchanging Brittney Griner for Victor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who was convicted in the U.S.
Alexander Boikov, Brittney’s lawyer, said he does not have any information on a possible exchange at this time.