Friends, family and supporters of Brittney Griner are fighting to get her home.
During a press conference on Friday (July 8), Brittney Griner’s family, friends and supporters asked for the WNBA star’s return to the United States from Russia.
According to Sports Illustrated, among the speakers at the presser in Chicago were Brittney’s wife Cherelle, WNBA Players’ Association President Nneka Ogwumike, Rev. Al Sharpton, Seattle Storm star Sue Bird and union leader Terri Jackson.
Ogwumike, an All-Star forward for the Los Angeles Sparks, said Griner is “an American hero,” adding, “she is ours and she is yours, and we must get her home.”
Cherelle, a vocal advocate for her wife’s release, said she understands that what the government is attempting to do is “very challenging due to the circumstance.”
“So I want to make it very clear that our next move as supporters for BG is to make sure that the administration understands that they have our full support in doing any and everything necessary to be able to bring BG home as well as every other wrongfully detained American,” she explained.
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden reportedly called Cherelle to reassure her that the U.S. government is trying to bring her wife home.
“I believe every word that she said to him, he understood and he sees her as a person,” Cherelle said at the conference. “And he has not forgotten her, which was her biggest cry in her letter.”
Cherelle continued, referencing a handwritten letter Griner wrote to Biden on Monday: “I’m grateful and I’m thankful that the administration that was the first one that BG ever voted for, took the time to see her as a person, to see her in the midst of what she’s going through and to speak to me directly and let her know that they are exhausting all efforts to bring her home.”
Griner has been detained in Russia since February on accusations of smuggling cartridges containing hashish. On June 27, her detention was extended for six months, pending the outcome of a trial scheduled to start last Friday.
“It has the fullest attention of the president and every senior member of his national security and diplomatic team, and we are actively working to find a resolution to this case and will continue to do so without rest until we get Brittney safely home,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on June 28 aboard Air Force One, according to The Hill.
The Hill reports Griner made an appearance in a Russian court and was ordered to stand trial on cannabis possession charges following her arrest more than four months ago. She subsequently pleaded guilty to possession of the hashish cartridges.
Sullivan also noted on Tuesday that he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have spoken with Griner’s wife, Cherelle, to “convey our very deep sympathy, convey that we just can’t even begin to imagine what the family must be going through, what Brittney must be going through.”
Cherelle has previously voiced her frustration with her wife’s detainment and the fact that she hasn’t spoken with her since she was imprisoned. That was supposed to change in late June when she tried to call Griner through the U.S. Embassy in Russia for their anniversary, but they were never connected.