The wife of Brittney Griner, the WNBA player who was sentenced to nine years of prison in the Russian Federation for drug possession, says that Griner could be moved to a labor camp if she were to lose her upcoming appeal on October 25.
Griner was arrested in February after authorities discovered her vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil within her suitcase as she was heading out of Russia following a basketball game.
Following her arrest, and possibly to entice President Joe Biden (D) to broker a prisoner exchange, Griner was sentenced by a Russian court in July after the basketball player pleaded guilty: “I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law…I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans, and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them.”
Following the guilty verdict, she was sentenced to nine years in prison and was forced to pay a fine of $16,200 or one million Rubles, as reported by the New York Times.
“On its face, it just seems like my wife is a hostage,” stated Cherelle Greiner to CBS News‘ Gayle King. “To know that our government and a foreign government is sitting down and negotiating for her release — she’s a hostage.”
“I work in the legal field. I do believe a crime should warrant a punishment. But it must be balanced. It must be balanced,” she explained why she didn't think the sentence was justified, adding, “And that, it tears me to pieces to see that this is not balanced for my wife right now. So I want people to see that. To see the fact that like has she suffered enough. BG has truly suffered beyond her crime already.”
Cherelle, who was able to have two phone calls with the WNBA player, went on to describe what those were like: “The second phone call, the minute I hung up I think I cried for about two, three days straight. I did not get out of my bed. It was the most disturbing phone call I’d ever experience, and I’ve known BG 11 years. That was like the most disturbing conversation.”
“You could hear that she was not okay,” Cherelle Griner told CBS News. “If you think about just a person's suffering and when they have suffered to a max…she was at the max that day,”
“And there was nothing that I could do, you know,” Cherelle continued. “So I’m sitting there and I’m just like — it was like 30 seconds to 2 minutes of range, of her just sitting on phone just literally in tears, just crying. And it’s just the most still, I think, moment I’ve just ever shared with my wife. I didn’t have words. Because at that point I’m like I don’t know if she has anything left in the tank to continue to wake up every day and be in a place where she has no one.”
“The reality of the situation is that once that hearing is held and the order is finalized, BG is now in the position where she could be moved to a labor camp,” she continued. “And my brain can’t even fathom it.”
The White House has made it clear that they are still attempting to get Griner out of Russia as the invasion of Ukraine goes on and relations between the West and Putin heat up.
“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” The White House released in a statement following the verdict. “It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”
With the WNBA player's future still in question and tensions between the two countries growing, so much so that President Biden said that the world is close to nuclear “Armageddon,” the prospect of the American being returned seems increasingly slim.
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