WNBA star Brittney Griner tried to call her wife through the U.S. embassy in Russia nearly a dozen times on the couple’s fourth wedding anniversary, Cheryl Griner said Monday Since the embassy’s phone line was not staffed, they were never contacted.
The couple have not spoken by phone in four months since Greener was arrested in Russia, where she remains imprisoned. That was supposed to change on Saturday, with the long-awaited conference call finally taking place after getting the go-ahead from the Russian government. But the day came and went without any contact, leaving a distressed Cherelle Griner wondering what was wrong and suspecting, at least initially, that Russian authorities had thwarted the call.
On Monday, she said she learned an even more harrowing truth from her wife’s lawyer: Brittney Griner actually tried 11 calls in a matter of hours to the number she provided at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, The couple were told and then forwarded the call to Cherelle Griner in Phoenix. But each call went unanswered, as the embassy desk where the phone rang on Saturday was apparently unattended.
“I’m distraught. I’m hurt. I’m done, enough is enough,” Cherelle Griner told The Associated Press in an interview with The Associated Press, describing how her eagerly-anticipated anniversary was spent in tears . “I’m pretty sure I texted BG’s agent and said, ‘I don’t want to talk to anyone. I need to take a moment to sort out my emotions and tell everyone I’m not available right now. Because it just knocked me out I’m not good, I’m not good.”
“We deeply regret that Britney Greener was unable to speak to his wife due to a logistical error,” the State Department said Monday. The department reiterated that it has no higher priority than the safety of Americans overseas and that it remains concerned with hostages and Families of illegal detainees are in regular contact.
For Cherelle Griner, the experience added to an already simmering frustration over the U.S. government’s response to her wife’s case. While U.S. officials have repeatedly said they are working behind the scenes to get the two-time Olympic gold medalist home from Russia, she said she was “very pissed off” by the chaos, especially since the conference call had been scheduled for two weeks, and yet , that no one warned her during that time, which might be logically impossible because of the weekend.
She added: “I find this unacceptable and I have zero trust in our government right now. If I can’t trust you to answer Saturday’s calls outside working hours, how can I trust you’re actually in Negotiating going home on behalf of my wife? Because it’s a lot bigger than taking a Saturday call.”
Cherelle Griner said a U.S. government contact had apologized to her for the mistake. She said she has since learned that Brittney Griner was assigned a number that usually handles inmates’ calls from Monday to Friday, not the weekend, which is why no one is there to forward calls. s reason.
“But mind you,” Cherelle Griner said in the interview, “this call has been scheduled for almost two weeks — with weekend appointments.”
Seven-time WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner, who played for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained at a Russian airport on Feb. 17 after authorities said a search of her bag found electronics containing cannabis oil. Smoke bombs.
The State Department designated her wrongfully detained in May and diverted her case under the supervision of its special envoy for the president for hostage affairs, who is effectively the administration’s chief hostage negotiator. Russia’s state-run news agency TASS reported last week that her detention had been extended until July 3.
Cherelle Griner said she still wants to talk or meet with President Joe Biden, but “at this point, it’s starting to feel like a rejection.”
So far, Cherelle Griner said she has had to rely entirely on others’ assessments of her wife’s condition. Lawyers and consular officials have been able to speak to the basketball star, but her wife has not.
The night before the call, she went to bed at 5 p.m. so she could stay awake and alert in the middle of the night for the expected call from Russia to Phoenix, which she never received.
“It’s such a big moment because it’s going to be the first time I’ll really be able to tell if she’s okay,” Cherelle Griner said, describing it as a “life-or-death” opportunity to find out who her wife actually is How it stuck. “It’s going to be the first time I’ve actually heard her voice in real time and really know if she’s okay or if she’s just seconds away from not being there anymore.”
Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.