You are here
Home > News > Russia Extends Brittney Griner’s Detention by Two Months

Russia Extends Brittney Griner’s Detention by Two Months

Brittney Griner, WNBA star basketball player will be detained in Russia on charges of having cannabis vape cartridges. The information was provided Thursday by state media outlets. Griner was arrested last month in Moscow, after her luggage contained cannabis oil cartridges. Since her arrest, the Olympic gold medalist was taken into custody in Russia.

According to a report by the TASS, the Khimki Court in Moscow had ruled that Griner would be held for at most two months more while the investigation continues. Daily Mail.

“The court granted the petition of the investigation and extended the term of U.S. citizen Griner’s detention until May 19,” the court ruled.

Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star center and has played for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013, including the team’s 2014 league championship squad. She has also won the Olympic gold medal with the U.S. women’s basketball team twice.

Griner played seven seasons in professional basketball during winter time in Russia, a practice that is common among WNBA players. Griner earns approximately $1 million per season playing in Russia. This is four times her salary while she plays for Phoenix. Griner played the last game she had with her team UMMC Ekaterinburg, on the 29th of January. The Russian league was taking a break for two weeks to prepare for the FIBA World Cup qualifiers tournaments.

WNBA Star Arrested Last Month

The Russian Customs Service reported on March 5 that an American women’s basketball player had been detained after cannabis vape cartridges were discovered in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow. Griner wasn’t identified and the date of her arrest were not given. Griner is also seen moving through security at an airport.

TASS reported later that Griner was the player who had been arrested. Although the date of Griner’s arrest was not announced, media outlets reported that she has been in custody since February. After news of the arrest broke, the WNBA and the players’ union expressed support for the star player.

“Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support, and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States,” the league said in a statement after Griner’s arrest was announced by Russian media.

TASS on Thursday reported that Griner is currently being held in an unnamed Russian prison pending investigations. Ekaterina Kalugina, of the semi-official human rights monitor group Public Monitoring Commission had also visited Griner, according to the news agency. Kalugina stated that Griner was well-behaved and held in humane circumstances.

Kalugina reported further that Griner had accepted her detention, and is being held with two women without prior convictions being held for drug-related offenses. Griner’s only issue, she said, was that the prison’s beds are too small for the 6’9” basketball star.

“The beds in the cell are clearly designed for a shorter person,” Kalugina told TASS.

A human rights activist also stated that the U.S. has not yet visited Griner, Russia’s neighbor on February 24th. This invasion plunged Ukraine into an international humanitarian and diplomatic crisis.

“In addition, for an unknown reason, the U.S. consul does not come to [see Griner], although the administration of the pre-trial detention center is ready to create all conditions for a visit,” TASS quoted Kalugina as saying.

Griner’s time in custody is being made easier by the women being held with her, the report continued.

“[Griner’s cellmates]You are also not a criminal record and have been charged with drug-related charges [offenses],” said Kalugina. “They speak English and help Griner communicate with the prison administration.”

“They helped her order books: she reads F. M. Dostoevsky and [a] biography of the members of the Rolling Stones,” she continued.

Uproar Over Griner’s Arrest

Griner’s arrest has led to an outcry from politicians and celebrities around the globe. Democratic Representative Colin Allred of Texas, the basketball star’s home state, said on March 9 that he was looking into the circumstances of Griner’s arrest.

“My office has been in touch with the State Department, and we’re working with them to see what is the best way forward,” said Allred, as quoted by ESPN. “I know the administration is working hard to try and get access to her and try to be helpful here. But obviously, it’s also happening in the context of really strained relations. I do think that it’s really unusual that we’ve not been granted access to her from our embassy and our consular services.”

Jason Rezaian, an American Iranian journalist, was held by the Iranian government for five years in Tehran. He was released after being detained. He said that he sees similarities in his case and Griner’s.

“It’s the most audacious hostage taking by a state imaginable,” Rezaian told CNN. “I know from my own case that the supposed charges against me were not based in anything like reality, and they were used to perpetuate a narrative about why I was being held.”