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Brittney Griner, who has been detained abroad since February, tried to call her wife 11 times through the American embassy in Russia on their fourth anniversary, but nobody was there to patch her through.
Cherelle Griner told the Associated Press on Monday she was set to speak to her wife from a Russian jail after four months of no communication. Things were set to change Saturday after getting approval from the Russian government to connect with Griner.
But Cherelle Griner learned the truth from her wife’s lawyers on Monday.
The Phoenix Mercury center actually dialed the number she’d been given at the U.S. embassy in Moscow nearly a dozen times. The couple had been told the embassy was going to patch the call through to Cherelle Griner in Phoenix. The call went unanswered because the desk at the embassy where the phone rang was unstaffed on Saturday.
“I was distraught. I was hurt. I was done, fed up,” Cherelle Griner told the Associated Press. “”I’m pretty sure I texted BG’s agent and was like: ‘I don’t want to talk to anybody. It’s going to take me a minute to get my emotions together, and just tell everybody I’m unavailable right now.’ Because it just knocked me out. I wasn’t well, I’m still not well.”
The State Department expressed regret over the “logistical error.” Cherelle Griner said a contact within the U.S. government apologized for the error.
Cherelle Griner told the AP she was “very p—-ed” about the incident, especially since the call had been on the schedule for two weeks and there was no mention of a potential snafu.
“I find it unacceptable and I have zero trust in our government right now,” she added. “If I can’t trust you to catch a Saturday call outside of business hours, how can I trust you to actually be negotiating on my wife’s behalf to come home? Because that’s a much bigger ask than to catch a Saturday call.”
She added she had hoped she would get to talk to President Biden, but “at this point it’s starting to feel like a no.”
Griner has been held in Russia since February. The WNBA star was arrested for allegedly bringing vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis oil through a Moscow airport. Her detention has been extended three times, with the latest being July 2.
Griner could face up to 10 years in a Russian prison if she’s convicted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.