PHOENIX MERCURY

Phone call between WNBA’s Brittney Griner and wife being rescheduled

Jun 21, 2022, 12:42 PM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A phone call between jailed WNBA star Brittney Griner and her wife is being rescheduled after an earlier attempt to connect on the couple’s anniversary failed because of an “unfortunate mistake,” Biden administration officials said Tuesday.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the State Department was working to arrange a new call but did not say when that would be. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the call could not be completed because of a “logistical error” that officials have worked quickly to fix so that a new call can take place.

Griner was to have spoken with her wife Cherelle on Saturday, the couple’s fourth anniversary, for the first time since her arrest in Russia in mid-February. The call was to have been routed through the American embassy in Russia, which was to have patched the conversation through.

Cherelle Griner told The Associated Press on Monday that no call ever came. She said she later learned that her wife had tried 11 times to call her through the embassy by dialing a number that she had been given, but that no one picked up because that particular desk was unstaffed on Saturday.

Price said Tuesday that the problem was compounded by staffing limitations at the embassy, including technicians that are located in a third country because of Russian government restrictions placed on the embassy and its operations.

A senior State Department official, speaking earlier on Tuesday said the call was supposed to have gone through the Marine Guard station at the embassy, which is staffed around the clock. but the call was apparently re-routed through a remote location that was unstaffed on Saturday.

“This was an unfortunate mistake,” Jean-Pierre said Tuesday, adding that, “the Department of State is working to rectify this as quickly as possible.”

Brittney Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time WNBA All-Star who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained at a Russian airport on Feb. 17 after authorities there said a search of her bag revealed vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.

The State Department in May designated her as wrongfully detained, moving her case under the supervision of its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator. Russian state-run news agency Tass reported last week that her detention had been extended until July 2.

Jean-Pierre said she had no information about whether President Joe Biden would meet with Cherelle Griner, but said: “The State Department has been in regular touch with Mrs. Griner. She’s also spoken with Secretary (Antony) Blinken. Any American who is held abroad is a priority for this president.”

Penguin Air

Phoenix Mercury

Diana Taurasi #3 of the Phoenix Mercury reacts after scoring against the Minnesota Lynx during the ...
Associated Press

Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles combine for 49 points in Mercury’s loss to Lynx

Tina Charles finished with 26 points and Diana Taurasi added 23 in the Phoenix Mercury's 100-88 loss to the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday night.
2 days ago
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) shoots during the first half of Game 1 of the WNBA bask...
Nikash Nath

Suns’ Monty Williams: ‘It is time for (Brittney Griner) to come home’

Suns head coach Monty Williams on Thursday urged those to continue to keep pushing for Brittney Griner's safe return home.
2 days ago
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) drives past Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker (3) duri...
Associated Press

Mercury’s Brittney Griner chosen as honorary WNBA All-Star starter

Brittney Griner will have a place at the WNBA All-Star Game, being named an honorary starter Wednesday by Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
3 days ago
Aerial Powers #3 of the Minnesota Lynx looks to pass under pressure from Diana Taurasi #3 and Tina ...
Associated Press

Mercury’s Skylar Diggins-Smith scores 25 points in loss vs. Lynx

The Minnesota Lynx beat the Phoenix Mercury 84-71 on Tuesday night at Footprint Center to snap a five-game losing streak.
4 days ago
Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury kisses her wife Cherelle Griner in the stands after the ...
Associated Press

Brittney Griner planned call with wife never occurred due to lack of staffing

Brittney Griner tried to call her wife through the embassy on their anniversary. They never connected since the phone line was not staffed.
5 days ago
Phoenix Mercury center Tina Charles (31) shoots from between Dallas Wings' Allisha Gray (15) and Ka...
Associated Press

Phoenix Mercury fade late after comeback in loss vs. Wings

Tina Charles put up 27 points and nine rebounds, but the Dallas Wings defeated the Phoenix Mercury 93-88 on Friday night.
8 days ago
Phone call between WNBA’s Brittney Griner and wife being rescheduled