A Russian court has extended Brittney Griner’s detention
By Amanda Holpuch
A Russian court has extended the detention of the WNBA star Brittney Griner to May 19, the Russian news agency Tass reported on Thursday, adding tension to the most dangerous moment in U.S.-Russia relations since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
Griner, 31, a seven-time WNBA All-Star center for the Phoenix Mercury, is being held on drug charges that could carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
The Russian Federal Customs Service said earlier this month that its officials had detained the American basketball player after they found vape cartridges containing hash-ish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow in February. They did not immediately release the name of Griner, who was later identified by Tass.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold med-alist, is one of several WNBA players who compete on international women’s teams in the offseason to supplement paychecks that are a fraction of their counterparts’ salaries in the NBA. She has played for the Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, since 2014.
Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas, told The New York Times last week that Griner, a Texas na-tive, had been detained on Feb. 17 and that he was working with the State Department to have her released. Russian authorities have so far denied the State Department’s request for a meeting between consular officials and Griner, Allred said.
American officials, including Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, have said that certain details surrounding Griner’s detention could not be disclosed due to privacy constraints.
Since she was detained, family and friends of Griner have come forward to ex-press their shared desire to get her home safely.
The State Department has advised all U.S. citizens in Russia to leave the country and has warned that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has “severe limitations” on its abil-ity to provide assistance to Americans there. The WNBA said on Mar. 5 that all of its other players in Ukraine and Russia had left those countries.