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Brittney Griner’s wife calls for WNBA star’s release from Russia

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Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle, wants US President Joe Biden to secure the WNBA star’s release and get her home from Russia where she has been detained for more than three months.

“I just keep hearing that, you know, he has the power. She’s a political pawn,” said Cherelle, who became emotional when detailing what little she knew about Griner’s detention during an interview that aired on Good Morning America on Wednesday.

“So if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it.”

The Phoenix Mercury centre has been detained since February 17 after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow.

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The 31-year-old Griner — a two-time Olympic gold medallist for the US — faces drug smuggling charges that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration said Griner was being wrongfully detained.

Brittney Griner played overseas to top up her WNBA salary.(AP: Rick Scuteri)

Cherelle has talked with Secretary of State Antony Blinken about Griner’s case, but not the President.

She said she was grateful for the phone call, in which she was told Griner was a top priority, but she said she wanted to see action.

“I feel like to see it would be me seeing BG on US soil,” Cherelle said in her first public interview.

Russian officials have described Griner’s case as a criminal offence without making any political associations.

But Moscow’s war in Ukraine has brought US-Russia relations to their lowest level since the Cold War.

Despite the strain, Russia and the United States carried out an unexpected prisoner exchange last month, trading former marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

While the US does not typically embrace such exchanges, it made the deal in part because Yaroshenko had already served a long portion of his sentence.

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