Wife of WNBA star Brittney Greiner said the scheduled call never happened because the embassy was empty of staff

WNBA star Britney Greiner tried to call her wife nearly a dozen times through the US Embassy in Russia on the couple’s fourth anniversary Saturday, but they never called because the embassy’s phone line was unstaffed, Sheryl Greiner said Monday.

The couple have not spoken on the phone in the four months since Grenier was arrested in Russia on drug charges. That was set to change on Saturday, when a long-awaited call was finally made. But the day came and went without any communication, leaving the stricken Cheryl Greiner wondering what had happened and suspecting at least at first that the call had been foiled by Russian authorities.

On Monday, she said she learned from her wife’s lawyer an even more disturbing fact: Britney Grenier had already tried to call 11 times over the course of several hours, dialing a number she got at the US Embassy in Moscow, the number the couple gave. He was then told that he would fix the call through Cherelle Griner in Phoenix. But each time, the call went unanswered because the embassy office where the phone rang was apparently unstaffed on Saturday.

“I’m stunned. I hurt. I’m done, I’m sick,” Cheryl Greiner told The Associated Press in an interview, recounting how the anniversaries she was eagerly anticipating was crying instead. “I’m sure I texted the BG agent and said, ‘I don’t want to talk to anyone. It would take a minute to collect my feelings and tell everyone that I am unavailable right now. Because he just fired me. I wasn’t feeling well, I’m still not feeling well.”

“We deeply regret that Britney Greiner was unable to speak with her wife due to a logistical error,” the State Department said Monday. The department reiterated that it has no higher priority than the safety of Americans abroad and that it remains in regular contact with the families of the hostages and illegal detainees.

For Cheryl Greiner, the experience exacerbated already simmering frustrations about the US government’s response to her wife’s case. US officials have repeatedly said they are working behind the scenes to bring the two-time Olympian back from Russia and make her case a top priority. But Cheryl Greiner said she remains “extremely upset” with Saturday’s ordeal, especially since the call was on schedule for two weeks and yet no one warned her during that time that it might be logistically impossible due to the weekend.

She added, “I find it unacceptable and have no confidence in our government at the moment. If I don’t trust taking a call on Saturday outside office hours, how can I trust that you’re actually negotiating on my wife’s behalf to come home? Because that’s a much bigger request.” From making a call on Saturday.

Cheryl Greiner said an acquaintance in the US government had apologized to her for the mistake. She said she has since learned that the only number Britney Greiner was asked to call usually handles calls from prisoners Monday through Friday but not on weekends.

“But keep in mind that this phone call has been scheduled for nearly two weeks – with the weekend due,” Sheryl Greiner said in the interview.

She added, “I find it unacceptable and have absolutely no confidence in our government at the moment. If I don’t trust taking a call on Saturday outside office hours, how can I trust that you are actually negotiating on my wife’s behalf for come home? Because that’s a bigger request.” Much more than making a call on Saturday.”

Sheryl Greiner said she still hoped to talk to or meet with President Joe Biden, but “at this point he began to feel rejected.”

Seven-time WNBA star Britney Greiner who plays for Phoenix Mercury was detained at a Russian airport on February 17 after authorities there said a search of her bag revealed vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.

Classified by the State Department in May as an unjustly held, she moved her case under the supervision of its Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator. Last week, the state-run Russian news agency reported that her detention had been extended until July 3.

Cherelle Griner says that she had to rely exclusively on other people’s assessments of her wife’s condition. Lawyers and consular affairs officials were able to speak with the basketball star, but her wife did not.

The evening before the call, she slept at 5 p.m. to be awake and awake in the middle of the night to receive the expected call from Russia to Phoenix that never came.

“This was a huge moment because it would have been the first time I could really tell if she was okay,” said Cheryl Greiner. “It was the first time I’d heard her in real time and really knew if she was okay or to know if she was seconds away from not being there anymore.”