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Brittney Griner detention in Russia extended to May 19

by Deon Osborne, Associate Editor
Brittney Griner detention in Russia extended to May 19 Moscow
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WNBA star Brittney Griner will remain under arrest until May 19 following a ruling from a Moscow court, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

Back in February, Griner was detained at a Moscow airport after security found a vape pen containing hashish oil derived from cannabis in her luggage.

Like other WNBA players, Griner has been playing in Russia during the offseason for years. WNBA players earn a higher salary out of the country than they do in the U.S.

While the alleged crime would be minor in the U.S., Russian authorities have charged Brittney Griner with drug trafficking, which carries a charge of up to 10 years.

“The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the U.S. citizen Griner until May 19,” the court said, according to Tass.

The Associated Press reached out to the United States embassy in Moscow, which did not return their request for comment.

U.S. leaders react to Brittney Griner detention in Russia

Recently, high profile political leaders such as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined calls to “free Brittney” with a Tweet on Wednesday.

Brittney Griner, a lesbian Black woman who stands 6’9’’, represents a multitude of identities that places her at higher risk for mistreatment in a Russian prison.

“I don’t wanna disregard a sovereign nation, but Putin has disregarded sovereign nations his entire service in this world. And anyone that is killing, and attacking, and destroying Ukraine, their neighboring country that has not wronged them, has no right to hold Ms. Griner. Period,” Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee said at a Houston press conference last week.

“If there are challenges and concerns about her actions, it should be dealt with diplomatically, and she should be released.”

Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner, a seven time WNBA all-star center, led the U.S. to two Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2021. She’s been playing in Russian during the offseason for Ekaterinburg since 2015, earning a much higher salary than she receives in the U.S. 

Yet, despite the attention on her case, Russian State TV’s release of a photo of Griner has raised concerns that the Kremlin will attempt to use her case as leverage amidst the largest European conflict since World War II.

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