WNBA’s Griner’s wife told The Associated Press that the scheduled call never happened

Sheryl Greiner said Monday that Britney Greiner tried to call her wife nearly a dozen times through the US Embassy in Russia on the couple’s fourth anniversary on Saturday, but they never called because the embassy’s phone line was not staffed. .

The pair have not spoken on the phone in the four months since Greiner’s arrest in Russia, where she remains imprisoned. That was set to change on Saturday, when a long-awaited call was due after the Russian government’s approval. 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 had 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 gave her 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 was dazed. I hurt. I’m done, sick,” Sheryl Greiner told the Associated Press in an interview, recounting how the anniversary 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 me a minute to put my feelings together, and tell everyone I’m unavailable right now. Because he just took me out. 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 ministry reiterated that it does not give a higher priority than the safety of Americans abroad and that it is still in regular contact with the families of the hostages and illegal detainees.

For Sheryl Greiner, the experience exacerbated an already simmering frustration about the US government’s response to her wife’s case. Although US officials have repeatedly said they are working behind the scenes to bring the two-time Olympic gold medalist home from Russia, she said she was “very angry” about the mess, especially since the call was on schedule for two weeks and, however, he did not warn her Anyone during that period of time that this could be logistically impossible due to the weekend.

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She added, “I find that unacceptable and I have no confidence in our government at the moment. If I can’t trust you to take a call on Saturday outside of business hours, how can I trust that you’re actually negotiating on my wife’s behalf to get home? Because that’s a much bigger request than Make a call on Saturday.”

Cheryl Greiner said an acquaintance in the US government had apologized to her for the mistake. She said she’s since learned that the only number Britney Greiner gave to call usually handles calls from prisoners from Mondays through Fridays but not on weekends, which is why no one was there to divert the call.

“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.

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.

The State Department in May designated her unjustly detainedShe moves her case under the supervision of her 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.

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

So far, Cheryl Greiner says that she has had to rely exclusively on other people’s assessments about 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 this was going to be the first time I could really tell if she was okay,” said Sheryl Greiner, calling it a “life or death” opportunity to discern how his wife was actually holding up. “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.”


Feinberg reported from New York. Author Matthew Lee at The Associated Press in Washington contributed to this report.