WASHINGTON (AP) – WNBA star Britney Griner tried to call his wife almost a dozen times through the American embassy in Russia on Saturday to mark the couple’s fourth anniversary, but they were never connected because the embassy’s staff line was not available, Cheryl Griner said Monday. .
The couple has not spoken on the phone for four months since Griner was arrested in Russia on drug charges. That changed on Saturday, when the long-awaited call finally came to pass. But the day came and went without any contact, leaving Cheryl Grinner in agony to wonder what had gone wrong and at least initially suspect that the Russian authorities had blocked the call.
On Monday, she said she learned a more distressing truth from her wife’s lawyers: Britney Griner actually tried to call 11 times over a period of several hours, dialed the number given to her at the US Embassy in Moscow, and was told the couple would patch the call to Cheryl Greiner in Phoenix. But each time, the call did not go unanswered as it appeared that there was no staff on Saturday at the desk in the embassy where the phone rang.
“I was upset. I was injured. I’m done, I’m tired, ”Cherle Griner told the Associated Press in an interview, describing how she spent her eagerly awaited anniversary in tears. “I texted to BG’s agent and said: ‘I do not want to talk to anyone.
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Put my emotions together and it will take me a minute to tell everyone that I am not available right now. It knocked me out. I’m not well, I’m not well yet.
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The experience exacerbated the already suffocating frustration about the US government’s response to her wife’s case. U.S. officials have repeatedly said they are working behind the scenes to bring the two-time Olympian home from Russia and make her case a top priority. But Cheryl Griner said she was “very angry” with Snafu, especially since the call had been on schedule for two weeks and no one had warned her at the time that the weekend might be logically impossible.
The State Department said Monday that it was aware of the matter and was looking into it. Cheryl Griner said an acquaintance in the US government apologized for her mistake. She said calls to a number called Britney Griner normally process incoming calls from inmates on Mondays to Fridays but are told to dial rather than on weekends.
“But remember,” Cheryl Griner said in an interview, “This phone call is scheduled for almost two weeks – with a weekend date.”
She said: “I do not think it’s acceptable and I do not trust our government right now. If I can not trust you to catch a Saturday call outside of working hours, how can I trust you to be negotiating on behalf of my wife to come home? Because it’s so much bigger than catching a Saturday call.
Cheryl Griner said she was still hoping to talk to or meet with President Joe Biden, but “at this point it started to seem like I didn’t want to.”
Britney Griner, a seven-time WNBA all-star who played for Phoenix Mercury, was detained at a Russian airport on February 17 after authorities said she had vapor cartridges containing marijuana oil in her bag.
In May, the State Department said she had been wrongly detained, Moving her case under the supervision of its Special Presidential Representative for Captive Affairs, was effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator. Russia’s state news agency Toss reported last week that her detention had been extended until July 3.
So far, Cheryl Griner says she has had to rely exclusively on other people’s expectations about her wife’s condition. Lawyers and consular affairs officials were able to speak to the basketball star, but her wife did not speak.
The evening before the call, she fell asleep at 5 pm, so she would wake up in the middle of the night and be alert, to receive a call that would never come from Russia to Phoenix.
“It’s a very big moment because it’s the first time I can really tell if she’s okay or not,” said Cheryl Griner. “This is actually the first time for me to hear her in real time and find out if she’s well or if she’s seconds away from being there.”
Feinberg reported from New York. The report was contributed by Matthew Lee, author of the Associated Press in Washington.