Brittney Griner’s Wife Livid U.S. Embassy Botched Scheduled Telephone Call

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    The couple have not communicated via phone for the past three months since the arrest of Griner in Russia where she is imprisoned. This was supposed to change Saturday, when a phone call was scheduled to have occurred after receiving Russian authorities' approval. However, the day came and went without contact, leaving Cherelle Griner wondering what went wrong, and to think that at the very least Russian authorities had blocked the phone call.

    The next day, the woman told the media that she was informed by her lawyer that her wife had a alarming fact: Brittney Griner had actually attempted to call 11 times in the span of several hours. She dialed the number she was provided by the U.S. embassy in Moscow and the couple was informed they would be able to pass the call back to Cherelle Griner's office in Phoenix. However, each call was not answered because the desk in the embassy which the phone was ringing from was evidently not operational on Saturday.

    “I was devastated. I was wounded. I was tired, angry with it,” Cherelle Griner told The Associated Press in an interview. She described how a celebration she had been looking forward to was instead a time of tears. “I'm sure that I sent a text message to the agent for BG, and I was like”I don't want to contact anyone. I'll need an entire minute to get my thoughts in order, and simply tell everyone that I'm not available at this moment. The reason is that it took me out. I was not well, and I'm not fully well.”

    The State Department said Monday that “we deeply regret that Brittney Griner was unable to speak with her wife because of a logistical error.” The department emphasized that it does not have a more important priority than the security of Americans abroad and is in constant contact with relatives of detainees who are held hostage and those who have been wrongfully detained.

    In the case of Cherelle Griner, the incident has intensified her already simmering anger over the U.S. government's response to her wife's situation. Although U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that they're working to bring the two-time Olympic gold medalist back from Russia, she said she's “very pissed” about the issue, especially considering that the call was scheduled for two weeks, and nobody had warned her during the time of scheduling that it could be logistically difficult due to the weekend.

    She also said: “I find it unacceptable and have zero faith in our current administration. If I don't believe you can make calls on a Saturday outside of business hours, how do I trust that you will actually be bargaining on behalf of my wife to get her home? Since that's a bigger request than catching the call on a Saturday.”

    Cherelle Griner told her that a person with government officials in the U.S. government had apologized to her for her mistake. She found out that the number Brittney Griner was assigned to dial normally handles calls from prisoners from Mondays to Fridays, but not on weekends that's why nobody was available to take the call.

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

    Brittney Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star player for the Phoenix Mercury and was detained at the Russian airport in February, after Russian authorities informed her that an investigation of her bag found vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil.

    The State Department, in May, designated her as being detained in violation of the law and placed her case under the direction of the special presidential envoy on Hostage Affairs who is the chief negotiator for hostages of the government. Russian state news organization Tass announced this week that her detention was extended to July 3.

    Cherelle Griner has said that she is trying to get in touch with or have a meeting with President Joe Biden, but “at this point it's starting to feel like a no.”

    So far, Cherelle Griner has been relying on the opinions of others regarding her wife’s health. Officials from consular affairs and lawyers have had the opportunity to speak with the basketball player; however, her wife has not.

    The night before the call she fell asleep around 5 p.m. so that she could be awake and alert by midnight in anticipation of the phone call coming via Russia to Phoenix that didn't come.

    “This was such a big moment because this would have been the first time where I truly could tell if she's OK,” Cherelle Griner told reporters, describing it as a “life-or-death” opportunity to discern the way her wife was performing. “This would have been the first time for me to actually just hear her in real time and to truly know if she's okay or to know if she's seconds away from not being in existence anymore.”

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