Update: A Russian court has extended the pre-trial detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner until at least July 2, reports CNN, citing Russian state media. The American basketball player has been held since February after vape cartridges with cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage at a Moscow airport. The State Department has been pressing for her release. Our last story from May 13 follows:
The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner said Friday her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month. Alexander Boykov tells the AP he believes the relatively short extension of the detention indicates the case would come to trial soon. She has been in detention for nearly three months. She appeared for the brief hearing handcuffed, her dreadlocks covered in a red hoodie and her face held low. "We did not receive any complaints about the detention conditions from our client," Boykov says.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained at a Moscow airport after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The Biden administration says Griner, 31, is being wrongfully detained. The WNBA and US officials have worked toward her release, without visible progress. The Russians have described Griner’s case as a criminal offense without making any political associations. But it comes amid Moscow’s war in Ukraine, which has brought US-Russian relations to the lowest level since the Cold War.
Despite the strain, Russia and the United States carried out an unexpected prisoner exchange last month—trading ex-Marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the US. The Russians may consider Griner a potential part of another such exchange.The State Department last week said it now regards Griner as wrongfully detained, a change in classification that suggests the US government will be more active in trying to secure her release even while the legal case plays out. (Read more Brittney Griner stories.)