WNBA Star Brittney Griner Receives Another Pre-Trial Detention Extension In Russia, Will Remain Jailed For At Least 18 More Days
New developments in basketball star Brittney Griner’s Russian arrest have been reported.
According to reports, Russian state media officials announced that the seven time WNBA All-Star will stay in police custody until at least the 2nd of July. Brittney Griner, 31, was detained at a Russian airport back in February os this year. The Phoenix Mercury player is charged with “large-scale transportation of drugs” for allegedly carrying hash-oil vape cartridges in her luggage. Hash oil, also known as cannabis oil, is illegal in Russia. Reportedly, the charge leaves Brittney facing a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Reports state the pre-trial date extension was issued at “the request of the investigation,” marking the second time Russian authorities have elongated the athlete’s arrest. Since her detainment approx. 117 days ago, concerns over Brittney’s well being and safety have continuously been raised. WNBA teams, NBA teams, and basketball stars alike have all rallied in support of Brittney’s release. Lebron James and the Boston Celtics, who are currently playing in the NBA finals, are the most recent to advocate on their fellow basketball player’s behalf.
The Boston Celtics supported Brittney Griner ahead of Sunday's NBA Finals. Some players donned "We Are BG" shirts petitioning for her release.
Griner was arrested in Moscow for allegedly possessing cannabis oil. She has been jailed since February. pic.twitter.com/oHczd04Y0u
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 10, 2022
On May 3rd of this year, U.S. officials reportedly labeled Brittney’s arrest in Russia as “wrongfully detained”, signifying that efforts to negotiate her release have begun. However, many have speculated that Brittney, along with other jailed Americans in Russia, may be used as pawns of war. The basketball center’s arrest came days before Russian launched an assault against the Ukraine. Brittney’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has publicly called on President Joe Biden to help secure her wife’s release. During an interview with GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts, she stated:
“I just keep hearing that, you know, he has the power. She’s a political pawn….So if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it.”
Though relatives have been given minimal ability to contact Brittney, only via written letters, the U.S. State Department spokesperson stated that officers have visibly verified her safety. Spokesperson Ned Price stated:
“[Officers] found her continuing to do as well as could be expected under these exceedingly challenging circumstances.”
And continued, asserting that government officials are doing all they can to secure better access prior to Brittney’s release:
“Our message is a clear and simple one — we continue to insist that Russia allow consistent and timely consular access to all U.S. citizen detainees….One-off visits are not sufficient, and we will continue to call on Moscow to uphold its commitments under the Vienna Convention for consistent and timely access, as well.”
What are your thoughts on Brittney Griner’s extended detainment in Russia? Let us know in the comments.