Brittney and Cherelle Griner were supposed to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary with a phone call over the weekend while the WNBA star remains detained in Russia. However, according to Cherelle, they were unable to connect due to an issue at the U.S. Embassy.
Per the Associated Press, Cherelle Griner was unable to connect with her wife in Russia because the phone line at the embassy was not staffed on that day.
“WNBA star Brittney Griner tried to call her wife nearly a dozen times through the U.S. embassy in Russia on the couple’s fourth anniversary Saturday, but they never connected since the phone line at the embassy wasn’t staffed,” said the AP.
WNBA star Brittney Griner tried to call her wife nearly a dozen times through the U.S. embassy in Russia on the couple’s fourth anniversary Saturday, but they never connected since the phone line at the embassy wasn't staffed, Cherelle Griner tells @AP. https://t.co/WFdStEy7yy
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 20, 2022
Per the AP, the couple has not spoken in the four months since Griner was arrested and detained when Russian officials reportedly found vape cartridges containing a cannabis derivative inside her luggage. This phone call, which was supposed to take place on Saturday, would have been their first chance to speak with one another and had been approved by the Russian government. However, Griner was never connected and wasn’t given an initial explanation why.
She said on Monday that she learned from Brittney’s lawyers that the basketball star has tried to call 11 times over several hours. However, the number she was given led to the U.S. embassy in Moscow, which was apparently unstaffed on the weekend day.
“I was distraught. I was hurt. I was done, fed up,” Cherelle Griner told The Associated Press in an interview. “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 said Monday that “we deeply regret that Brittney Griner was unable to speak with her wife because of a logistical error.”
The experience has not made Cherelle feel any better about the way the U.S. government is handling the situation.
“I find it unacceptable and I have zero trust in our government right now,” said Griner. “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 says that she was later told that the number given to Brittney was one that is only manned by staff during weekdays. “But mind you,” Cherelle Griner said, “this phone call had been scheduled for almost two weeks — with a weekend date.”