Brittney Griner's wife categorically denied the drug trafficking charges that led to the WNBA superstar's detainment in Russia

Brittney Griner in Russia
Brittney Griner being led to a hearing in a Russian court.KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images
  • Brittney Griner has been wrongfully detained in Russia for 138 days — or nearly five months.

  • The WNBA superstar was arrested on drug smuggling charges at a Moscow airport in February.

  • Her wife, Cherelle, vehemently denied that the 31-year-old would get involved in drug trafficking.

Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia — without direct contact with her friends or loved ones — for 138 days, or nearly 5 months.

And according to her wife, Cherelle, the WNBA superstar's arrest on February 17 — when customs agents at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport claimed to have found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage — was based on falsehoods.

Brittney Griner.
Griner competes with Team USA.AP Photo/Eric Gay

During a Tuesday interview with Gayle King on "CBS Mornings," Cherelle vehemently denied that her wife would get involved in the "large-scale" transportation of drugs, as the Russians have alleged.

"It blew my mind," Cherelle said. "I'm like, large scale? I live with BG every day, so I'm like, there's no way possible."

"I knew it wasn't true the minute that I heard the charge, because I know my wife," she added.

The US government's move to officially classify Griner as "wrongfully detained" appears to substantiate Cherelle's view. One expert who has navigated several hostage situations previously told Insider that the designation sends a "strong signal that the US government does not believe that there is a legitimate case against her."

Brittney Griner.
Griner with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury.AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

The "wrongfully detained" label also enabled the seven-time All-Star's friends, family, teammates, and supporters to openly campaign for her return to the States. Previously, the Biden administration worked quietly to negotiate Griner's release and safe return to the US and urged those close to the two-time Olympic gold medalist to "say less and push more privately," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told Insider.

The urgency of calls for Griner's safe return has only increased now that Griner's proceedings are underway in Russian court. Experts tell Insider the hearings are nothing more than a "show trial" with a "predetermined" outcome: a guilty verdict for the seven-time WNBA All-Star.

Griner faces up to 10 years in prison. Ultimately, Biden and his administration are understood to be best suited to secure Griner's freedom.

Brittney Griner appears in handcuffs during a May 13 hearing outside of Moscow.
Griner appears in handcuffs during a May 13 hearing outside of Moscow.AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

For that reason, Cherelle has, on several occasions, publicly lamented the fact that she still has not spoken to Biden about her wife's case. But National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson insisted that "the President's team is in regular contact with Brittney's family and we will continue to work to support her family" via a statement provided to Insider.

"National Security Advisor [Jake] Sullivan and Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken have spoken several times with Brittney's wife in recent weeks," Watson added. "And the White House is closely coordinating with the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, who has met with Brittney's family, her teammates, and her support network."

Check out Cherelle's full "CBS Mornings" interview with King below:


Read the original article on Insider