Russian court extends Brittney Griner’s arrest to May 19: state media
A Russian court has extended WNBA star Brittney Griner’s arrest to May 19 following her detainment at an airport near Moscow last month.
“The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the US citizen Griner until May 19,” the court said, according to Russian state media outlet TASS.
Griner was originally detained Feb. 17, according to Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas). The Russian Federal Customs Service took her into custody at the Sheremetyevo Airport after a canine unit detected vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage.
An investigation by the customs service was opened into allegations of large-scale transportation of drugs, a charge that carries with it a 10-year prison sentence.
The New York Times was the first to report Griner’s detainment on March 5, weeks after she was originally taken into Russian custody.
According to TASS, Ekaterina Kalugina, a representative for Moscow’s Public Monitoring Commission, visited Griner at her detention center. Kalugina stated that the U.S. Consul hasn’t been able to visit the two-time Olympic champion despite promises from the Russian government to orchestrate contact.
The news comes amid increased concerns from U.S. lawmakers, advocates and those close to Griner who worry that the 31-year-old may be used as a political pawn amid Russia’s war with Ukraine.
The U.S. has levied harsh economic sanctions on Russia and Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin himself, in an effort deter the country from continuing its war with its neighbor.
Legal experts say that Griner’s situation is a serious one, even in a less-strained political climate.
“We could have good relations with Russia and being arrested, bringing in a narcotic substance would be a very, very serious matter,” Tom Firestone, a former resident legal adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, told The Hill last week.
Allred previously said that it was “unusual” that the U.S. has requested consular access to the player, but it has not been granted by Russia.
In addition, there is little information about Griner’s whereabouts. The Phoenix Mercury player’s family and loved ones have also kept quiet about Griner’s detention.
Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, thanked the public for their support in an Instagram post but asked for “privacy” as efforts continue to bring her spouse home safely.