WNBA Star Brittney Griner Russian Detention Extended 30 Days Amid Release Negotiations

The pre-trial detention in Russia for Brittney Griner has been extended by one month, according to the Associated Press. Griner's lawyer, Alexander Boykov, told the Associated Press he thinks the extension indicated that Griner's case could be going to trial ver soon. The WNBA star has been in custody for nearly three months. 

"It could take longer. It could happen quicker," said Boykov, who described the scheduling ambiguity as "typical," per NPR.  Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained at a Moscow airport in February after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage. She is now facing drug smuggling charges and could serve 10 years in prison if convicted. Griner was in Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the county's professional women's basketball league. 

"She's been treated OK and has no concerns or complaints about her health. Everything is as OK as it could be," Boykov said. The Associated Press said WNBA and U.S. officials have worked toward her release without any real progress. The Biden administration says Griner, a two-time Olympic Gold medalist, is being wrongfully detained. 

Russia released a statement to CNN about the situation, defending its decision to detain Griner. It read: "She was caught red-handed while trying to smuggle hash oil. In Russia, this is a crime. In accordance with paragraph 'c' of part 2 of Article 229.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (drug smuggling), she faces a prison term of up to 10 years.

"The charges are serious, based on objective facts and evidence that is available. Attempts by the State Department to cast doubt on the validity of the detention of B. Griner are explained solely by the desire to influence justice by politicizing a generally understandable situation," 

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Griner, 31, was selected by the Mercury No. 1 overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft and has played for UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014. In her WNBA career, Griner has been selected to the All-Star team seven times, the All-WNBA team six times, named Defensive Player of the Year twice, led the league in scoring twice and led the Mercury to a championship in 2014. Due to her success in the WNBA, Griner was recently selected to the WNBA 25th Anniversary team.