Report: Russian court extends detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner

By NABJ Black News & Views

A Russian court has extended the detention of Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner to July 2nd, the Associated Press is reporting.

The news agency credits Griner’s lawyer, Alexander Boykov, with the update. Boykov also told the AP that he thought the extension might mean that Griner’s case, in which she was charged with allegedly having cannabis during a search at a Moscow-airport, might come to trial soon.

The development comes just a few hours after multiple news agencies reported that representatives for the Mercury, Griner’s WNBA team, met with the State Department on Monday to discuss how to further work toward Griner’s release from a detention center in the Moscow area.

WNBA player Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17. Photo credit: Lorie Shaull
WNBA player Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17. Photo credit: Lorie Shaull

Griner, 31, a seven-time WNBA All-Star, was detained at a Moscow-area airport on Feb. 17 after authorities searched her luggage and allegedly found multiple cannabis oil vape cartridges. Griner, like many other WNBA players, played basketball for a Russian team — UMMC Ekaterinburg — during the Mercury off months. Many WNBA players work for teams in Russia, which pay more than teams in the United States and help women players make up for pay disparities between them and male basketball players.

On Monday, the Mercury made its wishes known on social media with a five-word tweet: 116 days. Bring Brittney home.

The State Department press office did not immediately respond to an early Tuesday morning request for confirmation of the meeting. In May, Jalina Porter, the agency’s principal deputy spokesperson, said during a press call last month in response to a question regarding Griner: “Our requests for access are consistently delayed or denied, and we will continue to press for fair and transparent treatment for all U.S. citizen detainees in Russia.”

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