In an interview with CBS Mornings on Tuesday, Cherelle spoke to Gayle King about the Brittney's situation, one day after the two-time Olympic gold medalist sent a handwritten letter to President Joe Biden pleading for her return.
Cherelle said that it has been a fine line between "harm versus help" in the months since Brittney was arrested for allegedly bringing cannabis oil into Russia. Cherelle said she's been told by the government that they were going to "handle this behind the scenes" and that she should "stay quiet" and not "raise [Brittney's] value."
But now, more than 140 days since her arrest, Cherelle said, "I will not be quiet anymore."
"I will find that balance of harm versus help and pushing our government to do everything that's possible because being quiet means they are not moving, they are not doing anything," she said.
Brittney Griner’s wife Cherelle says it is “very disheartening” that she still has not heard back from the White House — after Brittney penned a handwritten letter to Pres. Biden from a Russian prison pleading for help. pic.twitter.com/MTyQqCJIBj
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) July 5, 2022
As for the letter Brittney sent to the president, Cherelle said her wife wrote directly to Biden because of the "failed attempts we have had as a family."
"It kills be every time when I have to write her and she's asking 'have you met with them yet?' and I have to say no," Cherelle told King. "My family has tried to no avail so I'm gonna do it myself."
During the interview, Cherelle also spoke about why sending the letter on July 4 was important to Brittney.
"BG cherishes the Fourth of July," Cherelle said, "her dad was in the Vietnam War and so she uses it as a day to honor his service and freedom. I know that it's killing her that she wasn't able to do her annual firework show and put chairs out in the lawn for all of us to sit and down and just to give him the respect due."
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In the letter, obtained by ESPN's T.J. Quinn, Brittney had talked about her father, Raymond Griner.
"On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those men who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran," Brittney wrote. "It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year."
According to Cherelle, Brittney would also joke that if she wasn't a basketball player, she would want to join the military. "My sister's in the military and she tells BG all the time 'You're too tall, we wouldn't take you,'" Cherelle remembered fondly.
Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty; Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty
Also in the letter, Brittney pleaded for freedom and expressed her fear that she may never return home.
"... as I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any accomplishments, I'm terrified I might be here forever," she wrote.
When asked by King how she felt about that quote, Cherelle said, "it breaks my heart." She continued, "BG is probably the strongest person that I know so she doesn't say words like that lightly, that means she truly is terrified that she may never see us again."
"I share those same sentiments," Cherelle admitted.
Cherelle also revealed President Biden has not yet responded to Brittney's plea. "It's honestly very disheartening," she said.
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images
Brittney was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport in February after vape cartridges containing hash oil, an illegal substance in Russia, were allegedly found by authorities in her luggage.
The U.S. State Department later officially classified Griner as wrongfully detained by the Russian Federation. "Our position for some time on this has been very clear. Brittney Griner should not be detained. She should not be detained for a single day longer," Ned Price, State Department spokesperson, said in a June 14 press briefing.
In the interview, Cherelle also reacted to Brittney's charge of transporting a "large-scale" quantity of drugs.
"It blew my mind," Cherelle said. "I'm like large-scale? I live with BG every day, and so there's no way possible. So I knew it wasn't true the minute that I heard the charge because I know my wife," she said. "BG does not large-scale do anything in traffic of drugs. It was very very hard to hear that charge."
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On Friday, she began her trial in Russian court and will remain in custody until hearings are complete, her lawyer Alexander Boykov told The New York Times.
If convicted, Brittney faces up to 10 years in prison. Her trial will resume on July 7.