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Brittney Griner's Wife Cherelle Releases Statement on Efforts to Free Her from Prison

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 17, 2022

Brittney Griner (KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, released a statement Friday night after meeting with United States President Joe Biden about efforts to secure her wife's release from prison in Russia.

T.J. Quinn ☘️ @TJQuinnESPN

Statement from Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle: <a href="https://t.co/aZHbVmBIJc">pic.twitter.com/aZHbVmBIJc</a>

Griner has been detained in Russia for 212 days since being arrested in February at a Moscow airport for carrying vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil in her luggage. She was sentenced to nine years in prison in August, a ruling that's been appealed.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released a statement after Biden met with Cherelle Griner and Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan, another American detained in Russia.

"The President held the meetings to reiterate his continued commitment to working through all available avenues to bring Brittney and Paul home safely," the statement read. "He asked after the wellbeing of Elizabeth and Cherelle and their respective families during this painful time."

In late July, the U.S. made an offer to exchange Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for the releases of Griner and Whelan, per Matthew Lee and Eric Tucker of the Associated Press.

John Kirby, the White House's National Security Council spokesperson, told CNN's Jim Sciutto that Russia responded with a "bad faith" counteroffer at the time.

Little information has been provided in recent weeks about the state of those discussions. Kirby told reporters Friday the talks were "still ongoing."

Griner was traveling to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason, as she's done since 2014 as one of several WNBA players who compete overseas for supplemental income.

The 31-year-old Houston native is one of basketball's most decorated players in recent years. She's won eight championships with Ekaterinburg, including four EuroLeague titles, a WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury and an NCAA national title with Baylor.

She's also an eight-time WNBA All-Star, a two-time winner of the league's Defensive Player of the Year Award and a two-time scoring champion.

Several WNBA players have provided daily support on social media seeking her release.

Breanna Stewart @breannastewart

It has been 211 days since our friend, Brittney Griner, has been wrongfully detained in Russia. It is time for her to come home. <a href="https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WhiteHouse</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/POTUS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@potus</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/VP?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@vp</a> , we are paying attention and we are counting on you. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeAreBG?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WeAreBG</a>

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said during her Finals press conference Sunday she recently received a handwritten letter from Griner.

"So as we prepare to start this great series, it's important to reiterate that we are always thinking of Brittney Griner and our commitment to bring her home safely and as quickly as possible," Engelbert said. "That has not wavered. We continue to work with the State Department and the U.S. government and administration and others on this very complex situation."

Along with her success at the club level, Griner also helped Team USA capture gold medals in women's basketball at the 2016 and 2021 Summer Olympics.

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