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Griner’s detention from WNBA extended until May 19 – Press Enterprise

By DOUG FEINBERG

Russian media have reported that WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention has been extended until May 19, a development that could see the two-time Olympic champion detained for at least three months before her case is resolved.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport, reportedly in mid-February, after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges allegedly containing cannabis-derived oil, which is punishable by death. a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The case of Griner, 31, one of women’s basketball’s most recognizable players, comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The court granted the request for an investigation and extended the period of detention of US citizen Griner until May 19,” the court said, according to state news agency Tass.

The US Embassy in Moscow did not immediately respond to calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The US State Department has “done everything we can to help Brittney Griner support her family and to work with them to do all we can to ensure that she is treated appropriately and to ask his release,” spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday. during a briefing. He cited privacy considerations by not giving further details.

Ekaterina Kalugina of the Regional Commission for Public Oversight, a state-backed panel in Russia that monitors prisoner conditions, told Tass that Griner shared a cell with two other inmates charged with narcotics-related offences.

Griner’s cellmates spoke English and helped him communicate with remand center staff and obtain books, Kalugina said.

“The only objective issue turned out to be the size of the basketball player,” Tass said quoting Kalugina of the 6-foot-9 Griner. “The beds in the cell are clearly intended for a smaller person.”

Griner won two Olympic gold medals with the United States, a WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury and a national championship with Baylor. She is a seven-time All-Star. The WNBA season begins May 6.

She was one of a dozen WNBA players who played in Russia or Ukraine last season. All but Griner have been gone since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Griner has played in Russia for the past seven years this winter, earning more than $1 million per season, more than four times his WNBA salary. She last played for her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg on January 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA ​​World Cup qualifying tournaments. She was arrested in Moscow upon her return to Russia.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined a growing contingent of family, friends and government officials calling for her release with a “Free Brittney” tweet on Wednesday.

It’s unclear how much progress has been made on the case because Griner’s group has tried to work quietly for his release and has refused to speak publicly since his arrest was made public earlier this month.

Griner’s wife, Cherelle, thanked everyone for their support, but didn’t say much else on social media.

“Everyone’s strategy is to say less and push more privately behind the scenes,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the AP on Wednesday. “That’s the strategy you get from the State Department and the administration. It’s our #1 priority to speak with his agent and strategists.