The WNBA has said that it is working with the U.S. government to get All-Star Brittney Griner freed from a Russian prison after her detention for possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil was extended until May 19th.
Khimkinsky court of the Moscow region ruled to detain the 31-year-old Brittney Griner for at least two more months after her arrest in February. Griner plays in Russia during the WNBA’s winter off-season to supplement her earnings in the USA.
Her detention comes at a time of extremely high tensions between the United States and Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
“This continues to be a complex situation that is extremely difficult for Brittney, her family, and all who are hoping for a swift resolution,” the WNBA said in a statement. “Our number one priority remains her safe return.”
“In close collaboration with U.S. government agencies, elected officials, individuals and organizations with expertise in these matters, and Brittney Griner’s representatives and family, we continue to work diligently to get her safely home to the United States.”
The U.S. State Department is working on her case and is reported to be in contact with Griner’s legal team. Officials are working on gaining consular access to all U.S. citizens detained in Russia, including those in pre-trial detention, a State Department spokesperson said.
“Russia must abide by its legal obligations and allow us to provide consular services for U.S. citizens detained in Russia.”
A trial date is expected to be set after the conclusion of the ongoing investigation. It is reported that Griner has seen her Russian legal team numerous times since she was detained.
The Russian Customs Service said this month that a player was detained in February after arriving at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on a flight from New York. A scan of the player’s luggage revealed cartridges containing “liquid with hashish oil”. A criminal case was opened that carried a possible sentence of five to 10 years in prison.
Griner is a seven-time All-Star and won Olympic gold medals with the U.S. national team in 2016 and 2021. The 6 foot 9 athlete plays center for the Phoenix Mercury.