A lawyer for Brittney Griner told The New York Times in an interview that the WNBA star has grown increasingly concerned about her detention in Russia and fears US authorities may not be able to secure her release.
“She’s still not absolutely convinced that America can bring her home,” Griner’s attorney, Alexandr Boykov, told The Times. “She is very worried about the price it will cost and she is afraid that she will have to serve all her sentence here in Russia.”
Griner was arrested at an airport outside Moscow in February after customs officials said they found two vape cartridges of hash oil in her luggage. She was accused of trying to smuggle drugs into Russia.
The Phoenix Mercury center was found guilty by a Russian court in August and sentenced to nine years in prison. A hearing on his appeal is scheduled for October 25.
Boykov told The Times that Griner is now being held in a penal colony outside Moscow, where she is allowed out for an hour-long walk in the yard. She shares a cell with two other people and sleeps on a bed long enough to accommodate her height.
The attorney said Griner was struggling emotionally because it was difficult to contact loved ones, including his wife, Cherelle Griner.
“She is in a lot of pain without her family because she hasn’t seen them for so long and it’s very difficult to talk to them in any way,” Boykov told the newspaper.
Cherelle Griner expressed concern during an interview with CBS’ Gayle King last week, telling the network host that she was “terrified” that she wouldn’t get her wife back.
“It’s like a movie to me. In no world would I have ever thought that our president and a president of a foreign nation would be sitting down discussing my wife’s freedom,” she said. “I feel like she’s a hostage. … It terrifies me.
The Biden administration and U.S. lawmakers have denounced Griner’s detention as illegal and vowed to take action to secure his release.
US officials have reportedly offered to trade Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper during an interview this week that he would be willing to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia next month if he discussed the release of Grind.
“I don’t plan on meeting him, but look, if he came to see me at G-20 and said, ‘I want to talk about Griner’s release,’ I would meet him, but that would depend,” Biden said.