American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner will be detained in Russia for two more months, according to reports out Thursday.
The Associated Press, citing a report from Russian state news agency Tass, said that “Moscow court has extended the arrest of [Griner] until May 19.”
Reuters reported on Tuesday that “Ekaterina Kalugina, a member of Public Monitoring Commission, a semi-official body with access to Russian prisons, told TASS Griner was sharing a cell with two other women with no previous convictions, adding that Griner’s only issue was that the prison beds were too short for her six-foot-seven frame.”
Griner was arrested on February 17 at a Moscow airport after officials discovered that she had cannabis vape cartridges in her belongings. She faces a drug charge that carries a potential sentence of 10 years.
Griner Detention Amid a Hostile Time with Russia
The detention of Griner has become an international subplot amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its standoff with the United States.
Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said he was limited in what he could say about the situation surrounding Griner, but that whenever “an American is detained anywhere in the world, we of course stand ready to provide every possible assistance.” He continued, “And that includes in Russia.”
Last week, Congressman Colin Allred, a Texas Democrat, said that his office “has been in touch with the State Department, and we’re working with them to see what is the best way forward.”
“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,” Allred said, as quoted by ESPN.
The Russian Federal Customs Service announced earlier this month that it had detained Griner, although it did not identify her by name, instead describing her only as a women’s basketball player for the United States who has won two Olympic gold medals. Additionally, the service released a video of a woman who looks like Griner making her way through airport security and having her bags inspected.
Brittney Griner’s Agent Has Confirmed Reports
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, confirmed the reports at the time.
“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams and the WNBA and NBA,” Kagawa Colas said then. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.”
A seven-time all-star in the WNBA and a league champion in 2014, Griner is one of the most celebrated women’s basketball players ever. She has played all nine seasons in the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury, but since 2014, Griner has also played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia during the WNBA’s offseason. (The WNBA is slated to tip off in May.)
Griner was also one of the most decorated college athletes ever during her four-year career at Baylor, where Allred played football.
“Of course for me, there is a Baylor connection,” Allred said last week. “And also being on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and having recently visited Ukraine and being intimately involved with our response to the Russian aggression there. But also the fact that Brittney is a high-profile LGBTQ advocate and icon in many ways.”
“The Russian criminal justice system is very different than ours, very opaque. We don’t have a lot of insight into where she is in that process right now. But she’s been held for three weeks now, and that’s extremely concerning,” Allred added.