Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, recently revealed some startling information about the basketball player’s detainment in Russia.
According to the wife of the Olympic gold medalist, Russian officials often transport the 6 foot 9 athlete in a small cage every time she’s required to appear in court.
“BG is having to travel over five hours round trip when she goes to court in a very, very, very tiny cage with her knees bent, feet up to the ground, because it’s not big enough for her to fit in,” Cherelle Griner told CNN’s “New Day” on June 30.
“It’s really, really difficult. This is not a situation where the rhetoric is matching the action,” she continued. “I do have to unfortunately push people to make sure that the things they’re telling me is also matching their actions and so it’s been the hardest thing to balance because I can’t let up. It’s over 130 days and BG’s still not back.”
Griner was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport on Feb. 17, after officials from the Russian Customs Service found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The Pheonix Mercury star is being held on drug smuggling charges. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison.
Griner’s detention has been extended for another six months
Only July 1, the Houston native appeared in a court near Moscow for the first day of her long-awaited trial. According to former Russian legal advisor Tom Firestone, Griner’s case won’t be structured like a standard U.S. trial.
“A trial there is not a trial in the U.S. sense — opening statements, jury selection, ‘call your first witness’ — none of that,” Firestone told CNN. William Pomeranz, who is an expert on Russian law, said that most likely, the trial won’t be open to the public.
“I’m sure some state media will be allowed in just to get some initial photos of the proceedings, but I assure you that they won’t let Western media in,” he added to ESPN.
Griner was delivered more unfortunate news at her closed-door preliminary hearing in Khimkski, Russia on June 27. According to NewsOne, Russian officials extended the basketball star’s detention another six months until Dec. 20. Video footage captured the 31-year-old looking awry as she walked into the courthouse with two guards and a police canine on Monday. Griner declined to answer questions from reporters as she was led into the courtroom. The FIBA world cup winner is reportedly being held at a detention center north of Moscow.
In May, Russian state media claimed that they were in negotiation to free Griner in exchange for convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout, also known as the “Merchant of Death.” Bout was sentenced to 25 years in prison on conspiracy charges after he was accused of providing aid to terrorist organizations. State Department official Roger Carstens, who is helping to negotiate Griner’s release, declined to comment on the possibility of the swap.