Brittney Griner's Wife Cherelle Meets with President Biden at White House

Erin WalshSeptember 16, 2022

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 06: Cherelle Griner, the wife of Brittney Griner, speaks during a rally to support the release of detained American professional athlete Britney Griner at Footprint Center on July 06, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. WNBA star and Phoenix Mercury athlete Brittney Griner was detained on February 17 at a Moscow-area airport after cannabis oil was allegedly found in her luggage. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Brittney Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, met with President Joe Biden and national security adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House on Friday to reassure her that the administration is continuing to work on the release of the detained WNBA star from a Russian prison.

"We're going to continue to do everything that we can, working tirelessly every day, to make sure that we get them home," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, per ESPN.

Griner has been detained in Russia for 211 days. She was arrested at a Moscow airport on Feb. 17 for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession charges on July 7 and said in court that she had the cannabis oil in her luggage for medicinal use, while her lawyer told the court Griner had a doctor's letter for its use. Griner said "she had no intention of committing a crime and had acted unintentionally because she had packed for Moscow in a hurry," per Jim Heintz of the Associated Press. However, all cannabis use—medicinal and recreational—is illegal in Russia.

The 31-year-old was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison on Aug. 4.

The United States and Russia have been working on a potential prisoner swap in order to bring home Griner and detained former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. The Biden administration has reportedly offered to exchange convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner and Whelan, per Gerald Posner of Forbes.

Jean-Pierre acknowledged Friday that "a substantial offer is on the table" and that Russia should accept the deal. However, she did not make any mention of what is included in the offer.

The Biden administration classified Griner as "wrongfully detained" in May and has frequently said it is doing everything possible to bring Griner home.

The Phoenix Mercury selected Griner first overall in the 2013 WNBA draft out of Baylor. She has spent her entire nine-year career with the franchise, earning seven All-Star selections. The WNBA also named her an honorary All-Star this year.

Griner is also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, ranks third all-time in blocks and field-goal percentage, and helped lead the Mercury to the 2014 WNBA title.

Additionally, she is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and has won three Russian league titles with UMMC Ekaterinburg.