OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
WNBA star Brittney Griner’s wife Cherelle met with President Joe Biden recently, but there does not appear to be any new news on her wife’s situation as her frustration grows.
The meeting with President Biden happened last week and when she spoke to reporters after the meeting she said that the White House was doing everything it can to bring her wife and fellow prisoner Paul Whelan home.
“Cherelle’s sense after meeting with Biden was that negotiations have been very complex but that Biden is determined to get a deal done,” CNN’s Abby Phillip wrote.
“I don’t think they have quite figured out exactly what Russia wants in return for BG,” Cherelle said, per Phillip.
Cherelle said she has exchanged a few letters with Griner during her imprisonment in Russia and that she believes things have taken a “dark turn.”
“She’s not well, Cherelle told Phillip. “She’s losing it.”
Cherelle also released a statement of her own following the Biden meeting.
“I’ve felt every minute of the grueling seven months without her,” she said. “I look forward to the day my wife is back home. As my family and I continue on this journey, I’d like to thank the broad coalition of friends, leaders, and supporters who continue to stand with us and advocate for Brittney’s swift and safe return. Let’s share a unified commitment to bringing all Americans home to their families and loved ones. Together We Are BG.”
Cherelle has been exchanging letters from BG during her imprisonment in Russia. But recently those letters have taken a dark turn. “She’s not well,” Cherelle told me. "She’s losing it.”
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) September 17, 2022
In August, former Russian Prisoner and American citizen Trevor Reed has detailed what he believes life is going to be like for WNBA star Brittney Griner in a Russian prison.
“Regardless of how you feel about Brittney Griner’s case, that sentence is clearly political. There’s no denying that,” he said to CNN.
Griner is still behind bars in Russia after being sentenced to 9 years is in for a tough time, he said.
“Once you are convicted in Russian court, you do have a chance to go to appeals, and appeal that decision to another kangaroo court in Moscow. So after that trial, you know, depending on Brittney’s decision on whether she wants to appeal or not, she may stay in Moscow at the detention facility that she is already at until her appeals are completed. Or if she chooses not to go to appeals, they may transfer her to a forced labor camp. Considering the fact that the Russian government is considering exchanging her, they may also decide to leave her in Moscow to make it easier for her to be returned to the United States,” he said.
He said that those who are sent to the labor camps are “facing serious threats to their health” because of malnutrition and the lack of medical care.
“I am hoping that there will be an exchange that we are able to get them home, so I am hoping for the best in that,” he said of Griner and Paul Whelan.
Griner pleaded guilty to bringing vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil into Russia, which is a crime.
“She’s devastated. She is very upset and she’s honestly quite shocked, so she needs to digest what happened today,” her attorney Maria Blagovolina, a partner at Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Partners, said to People.
Her attorney said that the punishment for this crime is usually not as severe as Griner’s sentence.
“So nine years, it’s pretty unusual and it contradicts the existing court practice in Russia,” she said. “That’s why we are really disappointed and very much surprised by this decision of the court.”
Her attorney said that they intend to appeal and that “as a legal team, we need to do [the] maximum to get a shorter term. We need to use every legal opportunity that we have, and [an] appeal is one of those opportunities.”
The likely scenario is that Griner, and Paul Whelan, will be part of a prisoner exchange between Russia and the United States.