Phone call between WNBA’s Griner and his wife postponed

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WASHINGTON – A phone call between the imprisoned WNBA star Britney Griner and his wife was rescheduled after a previous connection attempt on the couple’s anniversary failed due to an “unfortunate mistake,” Biden administration officials said Tuesday.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the initial appeal last weekend could not be completed due to a logistical error that officials worked quickly to correct so that a new call can take place. The State Department and the White House did not offer a date for the postponed call.

“It was a mistake. It’s a mistake that we have worked to rectify,” Price told reporters Tuesday. “The call has been rescheduled and will take place at relatively short notice.”

grinning was due to speak with his wife Cherelle on Saturday, the couple’s fourth anniversary, for the first time since their arrest in Russia in mid-February. The call was to be routed through the US Embassy in Russia, which must have patched up the conversation.

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But Cherelle Griner told The Associated Press on Monday that no appeal ever came even though it had been approved by the Russian government and had been expected for about two weeks.

She said that although she was initially concerned that the Russian authorities had foiled the call, she later learned that his wife had tried to call him 11 times by dialing a number from the United States Embassy which gave her had been given, but no one had picked up the line. Saturday.

Price said on Tuesday that the department deeply regrets the error, which he said was compounded by staffing constraints at the embassy, ​​including technicians located in a third country due to Russian government restrictions on the embassy and its operations.

A senior State Department official, speaking earlier on Tuesday, said the call was supposed to have come through the embassy’s maritime guardhouse, which is staffed 24 hours a day, but the call was apparently re-routed via a remote unmanned location. Saturday.

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“It was an unfortunate mistake,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Brittney Griner, two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time WNBA All-Star who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested at a Russian airport on February 17 after authorities said a search of his bag revealed vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.

The State Department in May designated her as wrongly detainedmoving his case under the supervision of his special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, making him the government’s chief hostage negotiator. Russian news agency Tas reported last week that his detention had been extended until at least July 2.

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Jean-Pierre said she had no information on whether President Joe Biden would meet with Cherelle Griner, but said: “The State Department has been in regular contact with Ms. Griner. She has also spoken with the Secretary (Antony) Blinken Any American who is held abroad is a priority for this president.

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Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Chris Megerian in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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