December 7, 2022

WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia extended until May 19, Tass reports

A Moscow court has extended the arrest of WNBA star Brittney Griner until May 19, according to Russian news agency Tass.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges. They were identified as containing cannabis-derived oil, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

“The court granted the request for an investigation and extended the period of detention of US citizen Griner until May 19,” the court said, according to Tass.

The US Embassy in Moscow did not immediately respond to calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Griner, 31, one of women’s basketball’s most recognizable players, won two Olympic gold medals with the United States, a WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury and a national championship at Baylor. She is a seven-time All-Star.

READ MORE: Brittney Griner is more than a WNBA star. This is what makes his Russian detention so precarious. | Jenice Armstrong

The WNBA season begins May 6.

Griner has played in Russia for the past seven years this winter, earning more than $1 million per season, more than four times his WNBA salary. She last played for her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg on January 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA ​​World Cup qualifying tournaments. She was arrested in Moscow upon her return to Russia.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined a growing contingent of family, friends and officials calling for the player’s release with a “Free Brittney” tweet on Wednesday.

It’s unclear how much progress has been made on the case because Griner’s group has tried to work quietly for his release and has refused to speak publicly since his arrest was made public earlier this month.

“Everyone’s strategy is to say less and push more privately behind the scenes,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “That’s the strategy you get from the State Department and the administration. It’s our #1 priority to speak with his agent and strategists.

The US State Department has “done everything we can to help Brittney Griner support her family and to work with them to do all we can to ensure that she is treated appropriately and to ask his release,” spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday. during a briefing.

Griner was one of twelve WNBA players who played in Russia or Ukraine last season. All but Griner have been gone since Russia invaded Ukraine.