According to reports out of Russia, WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention for drug charges has been extended until May 19.
According to TASS, a Russian state news agency, a Moscow court made the decision to extend Griner’s detention, meaning the WNBA player will spend at least the next two months in Russian prison.
“The court granted the petition of the investigation and extended the term of U.S. citizen Griner’s detention until May 19,” TASS quoted the court as saying, according to Reuters.
In early March, The New York Times reported that Griner had been detained at an airport near Moscow, after Russian Federal Customs Service officials searched her luggage, saying they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil. Per the NYT, the search of Griner’s luggage occurred in February, and she could face up to 10 years in prison for the crime.
Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, also plays for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason, as the Russian league often provides large salaries.
The timing of the arrest coincides with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the U.S. and many Western countries putting heavy sanctions against Russia.
Days after the news, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the administration stands “ready to provide every possible assistance” to Americans detained in Russia, without mentioning Griner specifically.
“There’s only so much I can say given the privacy considerations at this point,” Blinken said Sunday. “Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we, of course, stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia.”
“In times like these, it’s important that we maintain our diplomatic contacts, that we maintain the diplomatic support, particularly support that we can provide to Americans who may need it,” he continued.
According to TASS, U.S. officials have yet to visit Griner in Russia, even though Russia has offered to “create all conditions” for a visit.
Evelyn Farkas, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine, told Yahoo Sports that Russia could use Griner as a form of blackmail.
“If we want her out of jail, Russia is going to have some terms,” said Farkas. “It could be a prisoner swap. They also could use it as an implicit threat or blackmail to get us to do something or not do something. Either way, they find it useful.”
Griner was drafted by the Mercury as top pick in the 2013 draft, and has averaged 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game in her nine WNBA seasons. She won the 2014 WNBA championship with Phoenix, and won two gold medals as a member of the 2016 and 2021 USA Olympics women’s basketball teams.
“USA Basketball is aware of and closely monitoring the legal situation facing Brittney Griner in Russia,” USA basketball said in a statement following news of her arrest. “Brittney has always handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball and her safety and wellbeing are our primary concerns.”
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to email@example.com.
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