Brittney Griner's Wife Says She Has 'Zero Trust' in U.S. Government After Botched Phone Call

Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, was supposed to speak with her on Saturday after the Russian government approved a phone call on their fourth wedding anniversary, but after waiting by the phone for hours a call never came through.

Cherelle claims Brittney’s lawyers said her wife called a number given to her at the U.S. embassy in Moscow nearly a dozen times over “several hours.”

The calls — which were supposed to connect Brittney to Cherrelle in Arizona — were never answered because no one was working the desk at the embassy on Saturday.

via People:

“I find it unacceptable, and I have zero trust in our government right now,” Cherelle told AP. “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.”

Cherelle told the outlet that the incident left her “not well.”

Representatives for Griner and the U.S. State Department did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment on Tuesday.

Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said, “my heart breaks into pieces every time I think of it,” in a post on Twitter.

“It’s nothing compared to the reality [Brittney] and her family are enduring,” she added.

In a statement to AP, a State Department representative said, “We deeply regret that Brittney Griner was unable to speak with her wife because of a logistical error.”

Cherelle told AP a U.S. government representative has since apologized to her. The number Brittney was given typically processes calls from prisoners on Mondays through Fridays but not weekends, which is why no one was there to transfer the call, she added.

“But mind you,” Cherelle said in the interview with the outlet, “this phone call had been scheduled for almost two weeks — with a weekend date.”

Brittney, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow in February after vape cartridges containing hash oil were allegedly found by authorities in her luggage.

At the time, the Russia Federal Customs Service said the WNBA star had flown to Moscow from New York when a customs service dog at the airport indicated that drugs were possibly located inside her carry-on bag. Customs officers searched the bag and allegedly found vape cartridges containing hash oil liquid. 

Brittney was later taken into custody. According to the statement, she has been charged with smuggling “narcotic drugs” into the country. The basketball champion faces five to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The U.S. State Department has now classified Brittney’s February arrest in Russia as wrongful detainment, which indicates a shift in how government officials will attempt to bring her home.

“The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

They added: “The U.S. Government will continue to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner and her family.”


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