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WNBA star Brittney Griner got more bad news that has her “fearing” for her future, according to her lawyer.
Griner is “increasingly anxious” about her prospects of release from a sentence in a Russian prison, according to The New York Times. Griner’s Russian lawyer revealed publicly that the WNBA player, who is behind bars on drug possession charges, is struggling mentally and does not think she has a future of any kind.
“She has not been in as good condition as I could sometimes find her in,” Alexandr D. Boykov said in an interview. “She is not yet absolutely convinced that America will be able to take her home. She is very worried about what the price of that [a prisoner exchange] will be, and she is afraid that she will have to serve the whole sentence here in Russia.”
She was sentenced to 9 years in a Russian prison after a month-long trial and nearly six months after the basketball player was arrested at a Russian airport with cannabis in her luggage. A Russian court set Oct. 25 as the date for Griner’s appeal against her sentence.
Griner is currently in a penal colony outside Moscow but fears she may serve her sentence in a different prison that has more “miserable” conditions — and her lawyer says she’s terrified.
“Mr. Boykov said that the uncertainty over which type of prison Ms. Griner would end up in is a particular concern, as she fears it will be one with miserable or inhumane conditions,” the Times reported.
President Joe Biden delivered bad news to Griner earlier this month when he spoke to reporters outside of the White House and was asked if he planned to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G 20 summit about the WNBA star.
“Look, I have no intention of meeting with him,” he said to anchor Jake Tapper on CNN. “But, for example, if he came to me at the G20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I would meet with him.”
But when he was taking questions from reporters as he boarded Marine One he was not optimistic.
“You said you would be open to meeting with Vladimir Putin to discuss Brittney Griner. Have you seen any movement on that front?” the reporter said.
“Not with Putin,” the president said.
Last month, Cherelle Griner, the wife of Griner, met with President Biden.
Cherelle spoke with reporters after the meeting and noted that the White House said it is doing everything it can to help Griner and Paul Whelan’s family.
“Cherelle’s sense after meeting with Biden was that negotiations have been very complex but that Biden is determined to get a deal done,” CNN’s Abby Phillip wrote.
“I don’t think they have quite figured out exactly what Russia wants in return for BG,” Cherelle said, per Phillip.
Cherelle said she has exchanged a few letters with Griner during her imprisonment in Russia and that she believes things have taken a “dark turn.”
“She’s not well, Cherelle told Phillip. “She’s losing it.”
Cherelle also released a statement of her own following the Biden meeting.
“I’ve felt every minute of the grueling seven months without her,” she said. “I look forward to the day my wife is back home. As my family and I continue on this journey, I’d like to thank the broad coalition of friends, leaders, and supporters who continue to stand with us and advocate for Brittney’s swift and safe return. Let’s share a unified commitment to bringing all Americans home to their families and loved ones. Together We Are BG.”
Russia has confirmed that it is in talks to swap Griner for Viktor Bout, the notorious “Merchant of Death” arms dealer who has been imprisoned in the United States since 2010.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “We are ready to discuss this topic but within the framework of the channel that was agreed upon by presidents Putin and Biden. If the Americans decide to once again resort to public diplomacy, that is their business and I would even say that it is their problem.”