Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks during a news conference in Chicago on July 8.
CNN  — 

The wife of Brittney Griner, the American professional basketball player jailed in Russia, said Thursday she thinks it’s going to take “mercy” from Russian President Vladimir Putin to get Griner home.

“I feel like at this point it’s going to take Putin to have that same mindset and say ‘You know what, Brittney Griner – who came to my country for seven, eight years, and helped my country be recognized through sport, paid taxes in my country, helped my country – I’m going to sit at a table, and I’m going to be clear about what I need in return for her release,’ so that we can actually get a meeting of the minds between these two governments,” Cherelle Griner told CBS.

The WNBA star was sentenced in August to nine years in a Russian jail after pleading guilty to drug-smuggling. She played in Russia during the WNBA offseason.

Cherelle Griner, who hasn’t seen her wife in nearly eight months, said “on its face it seems like my wife is a hostage – to know the foreign government is sitting down and negotiating for her release – she’s a hostage.”

The couple have only spoken twice since the ordeal began in February. After the second phone call, Cherelle Griner said she knew her wife was not OK. “It was the most disturbing phone call I’d experienced … you could hear it; you could hear she that was not OK.”

Cherelle Griner said she wants people to see that her wife has suffered enough. “I work in the legal field, I do believe a crime should warrant a punishment,” she said.

Brittney Griner’s lawyers have appealed the sentence and President Joe Biden is working toward a potential prisoner swap with Russia for Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.

A Russian court is scheduled to hear the appeal on October 25.