White House says Brittney Griner’s guilty plea won’t change its efforts to secure her return

As the Biden administration works to free Griner, her wife Cherelle Griner tells theGrio her "life" and "safety is at stake."

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The fate of WNBA player Brittney Griner still hangs in the balance after being detained in Russia for months. 

On Thursday, the basketball player pleaded guilty to drug charges and stated that it was not her intention to break the law when she traveled through a Moscow airport while possessing cannabis oil in February.

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury stands on the court as the Las Vegas Aces shoot free throws during Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Playoffs semifinals at Michelob ULTRA Arena on September 30, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

During Thursday’s briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told theGrio that Griner’s guilty plea will not change the Biden Administration’s efforts to secure her safe return.

We will continue to make this a top priority in making sure that we bring her home safely. That is a commitment that we have made to her and to her family and also to other U.S. nationals as we’re trying to bring them back home,” said Jean-Pierre.

The press secretary did not disclose how Russian officials are responding to Griner’s guilty plea, however, she did reiterate that President Joe Biden “wants to bring home these U.S. nationals who are wrongfully being held abroad and also held hostage.” She added, “It is important that we get them home safely.” 

In a recent exclusive interview, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, told theGrio’s White House Correspondent and D.C. Bureau Chief April D. Ryan that as long as the WNBA player is in Russia, her “humanity is at stake.”

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“Her life is at stake, her safety is at stake,” she proclaimed. “I refuse to just stay in the bed and do what I feel like doing, which is just crying all day and so instead, I’m going to do everything in my power standing right now to make sure that we see the urgency in getting her back.”

Griner sent a letter to Biden earlier week asking him not to “forget” about her, as theGrio previously reported.

While speaking with theGrio, Cherelle Griner revealed that one of Brittney’s “biggest concerns” was being forgotten. 

President Joe Biden and Brittney Griner
President Joe Biden and Brittney Griner. (Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images, Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Cherelle spoke with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on the phone and she told the theGrio that the president “reassured” her that Griner was still a priority. 

“[The Biden Administration] has made it very clear that they are doing everything that is in their power to try and negotiate for B.G. to be back in the U.S,” she told theGrio. Mrs. Griner said that despite her call with the president and vice president, “that does not mean the work here is done.”

“We have to make sure that we are holding everybody accountable to do this urgently,” she said. “We need to make sure that they do get this done. And so we cannot be quiet until the day that B.G. is back home.”

Cherelle told theGrio that Brittney Griner is a selfless person and “if the roles were reversed, she would use her platform to make a difference.”

“She cares about everybody and this is the time to now care about her. So continue to lift her up. Continue to make noise about her until the day that we see her back,” she added.

Griner’s next court hearing is scheduled for July 14. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison.

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