Brittney Griner’s pretrial detention in Russia has been extended by a month

Brittney Griner

A two-time Olympic gold winner and star for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, Griner, 31, was arrested in February at a Moscow airport. Griner was suspected of smuggling considerable amounts of a narcotic drug by Russian police, who stated she had cannabis oil in her suitcase and might face up to ten years in jail. While she has been playing in the WNBA offseason for a Russian team for the past seven seasons.

According to Russian official news agency TASS, a Russian court has prolonged the pretrial imprisonment of US basketball player Brittney Griner, who has been jailed in Russia since February on drug smuggling charges.

A court in Khimki outside Moscow determined Friday that Griner, who the US government claims is being unfairly imprisoned, can now be held in pretrial custody at least until June 18, according to TASS, citing the court’s press office.

Griner was permitted to speak with a representative from the US Embassy on the margins of her hearing on Friday morning, according to State Department spokeswoman Ned Price.

On a conference call Friday, Price said, “The officer was able to affirm that Brittney Griner is doing as well as can be expected given what can only be described as extremely tough circumstances.”

Griner’s family and the WNBA have been vocal in their support for her release, with some worried that Russia will use her as a political pawn amid tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to a State Department official who spoke to CNN last week, Griner has been designated as illegally held in Russia, and her case is being handled by the office of the US special presidential envoy for hostage situations. The office is in charge of the government’s diplomatic efforts to free Americans who have been unlawfully jailed abroad.

“Regardless of Russian legal processes, Brittney Griner has been formally labeled as Wrongfully Detained by the United States Government and has been imprisoned for 85 days,” said Griner’s agent Lindsay Colas on Friday. “As a result, we expect the White House to employ all alternatives to return her home swiftly and securely, out of respect for the purity of sport and to support the confidence of all athletes traveling overseas to participate.”

The Richardson Center, which works privately on behalf of hostage and prisoner families, has also stated that it is working on behalf of the Griner family to seek her release.

Griner was the first overall choice in the 2013 WNBA draught and is one of the best players in the league’s history.

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