A Russian court ruled to extend the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner once again.
Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February, will remain in custody until at least July 2, according to Russian state media outlet TASS.
Griner, a seven-time All-Star with the Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA, was arrested Feb. 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport, where Russian officials said they discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. According to the customs service statement, a criminal case involving Griner “has been opened into the large-scale transportation of drugs,” which can carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years in Russia.
As of May 3, the U.S government has classified Griner’s arrest as a “wrongful detainment,” allowing the U.S. State Department to transfer oversight of her case to the State Department’s Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, or SPEHA. The State Department has also called getting Griner back on U.S. soil a “top priority,” though Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, and others from around the WNBA are hoping to see additional action taken to get her home.
Led by WNBA players, figures from around the sporting world have spoken out on Griner’s behalf and have done so even more so in recent weeks, after she reached the 100-day mark of her detainment. NBA stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry issued statements about the situation and members of the Celtics wore “We Are BG” shirts with a link to a Change.org petition ahead of a June 4 practice, a day before Game 2 of the NBA Finals. United States Marine Corps veteran Trevor Reed, who was wrongfully detained in Russia for three years before being released in an April prisoner swap, also pressed the U.S. government to bring Griner home at a rally in Houston last week.
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Players from around the WNBA have been the most outspoken throughout recent weeks, which included carrying out a coordinated social media push to shed a spotlight on Griner’s situation on May 28, the 100th day of her detention in Russia.
“Cherelle [Griner] NEEDS to meet with President Biden. Her person, our sister, has been wrongfully detained for 100 days. You’ve heard our pleas,” the WNBPA said in a statement on May 28. “You have heard BG’s wife Cherelle’s pleas. And now more than ever, we need you to stand with us, to get her person home.”
U.S State Department officials met Monday with members of the Mercury, Griner’s WNBA team, and re-affirmed their commitment to getting the 31-year-old back safely on American soil.
“There is a lot involved in getting her back home and safe, they’re working relentlessly,” Mercury star Diana Taurasi said after the meeting in a release from the team. “We’re here to do whatever we can to amplify and keep BG at the forefront, which is more important than any basketball game and anything else that’s going on in our lives. We want BG to come home as soon as possible, it’s number one on our list.”
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