Cherelle Griner, the wife of basketball star Brittney Griner, is happy and relieved that her spouse has been released and is coming home for the holidays, but says she’s still committed to aiding in the release of Paul Whelan.
During a press conference at the White House, Cherelle Griner spoke after President Biden announced that Brittney Griner had been released from a Russian prison and was on her way home.
“Over the last 9 months, yall have been so privy to one of the darkest moments in my life,” she said. “Today I’m just standing here overwhelmed with emotions. The most important emotion I have right now is just sincere gratitude for president Biden and his entire administration.”
She also thanked VP Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Phoenix Mercury players and organization, as well as a host of others for their work in freeing Brittney.
“Today is just a happy day for me and my family. I’m gonna smile right now.”
Even though Brittney Griner will be reuniting with her family, Cherelle said she will not rest until Paul Whelan gets to hug his loved one as well.
“Today my family is whole, but as you all are aware, there are so many other families who are not whole,” said Cherelle.
“BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home including Paul, whose family is in our hearts today as well. We do understand that there are still people out here who are enduring what I endured the last nine months of missing tremendously their loved ones.”
According to a U.S. official, Brittney Griner was released from a Russian prison on Thursday after a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Griner’s release after her questionable conviction for drug smuggling ends a horrific ordeal lasting about 10 months.
Paul Whelan hasn’t been so fortunate. The former U.S. Marine was arrested in Russia in 2018 and convicted two years later on espionage charges that U.S. officials claim are false allegations.
In a statement, the Whelan family was happy that Griner has been set free and said Biden made the right decision making the Griner and Bout swap, but the family is still devastated Paul won’t be coming home with Griner.
“Despite the possibility that there might be an exchange without Paul, our family is still devastated,” said David Whelan in the statement. “I can’t fathom how Paul feels right now. Paul has worked hard to survive nearly four years of this injustice.”
U.S. officials say they tried everything to get Paul Whelan out, but his espionage case had made it more difficult.
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