Brittney Griner 'Struggling,' 'Terrified' amid Russian Detainment, Wife Cherelle Says

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 29, 2022

TOPSHOT - US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on June 27, 2022. - Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and WNBA champion, was detained at Moscow airport in February on charges of carrying in her luggage vape cartridges with cannabis oil, which could carry a 10-year prison sentence. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Cherelle Griner told Al Sharpton on Wednesday that her wife, WNBA star Brittney Griner, is "terrified" amid her 132-day detainment in Russia.

"She's a human. She's struggling. She's there, terrified. She's there alone," she said on Sharpton's Keepin' It Real radio show on SiriusXM (6:15 mark). "I mean, even in America, if she was going through a legal proceeding, she wouldn't be doing it alone. ... Everything about this is just your biggest nightmare. On top of the fact that BG is in a situation where this isn't even a trial. ... Considering an execution, Russia has a 99 percent conviction rate. Nothing about this is justice."

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February and accused of having cannabis oil vape cartridges in her luggage. If convicted, she is facing up to 10 years in prison in the country.

Her trial is set to begin Friday.

Charles Maynes @cwmiii3

And 40 min later the preliminary hearing is over. No comment from Griner. Her Russian lawyer says the judge extended her detention for the length of her trial. No date set. Curiously, no US embassy officials present for the hearing. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BrittneyGriner?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BrittneyGriner</a> <a href="https://t.co/FSYprXjSgs">pic.twitter.com/FSYprXjSgs</a>

"The United States government is actively engaged in trying to resolve this case and get Brittney home," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Tuesday.

"The Russian government should release her and allow her to be returned and reunited with her family and come home safe and sound," he added, saying she was "wrongly" and "unjustly" detained.

The State Department has also classified Griner as wrongfully detained.

One of the beliefs regarding Griner's arrest and detainment is that the Russian government is using her as a political pawn, with some Russian media outlets reporting that the government is trying to get the United States to release convicted weapons dealer Viktor "The Merchant of Death" Bout in a prisoner exchange.

"He was arguably the largest and most sophisticated arms trafficker on the globe when he was arrested," former DEA chief of operations Michael Braun told Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports in late May. "He was the guy who could deliver virtually anything with certainty to any bad actor all over the world."

Griner, 31, is one of many WNBA stars who play in Europe during the WNBA offseason. She most recently has played for Russia's UMMC Ekaterinburg.