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A lawyer for WNBA super star Brittney Griner announced on Friday that her detention in a Russian jail has been extended another 30 days.
Griner was first detained on February 17, 2022 at a Moscow airport after authorities claimed to have found a vape pen containing cannabis in her luggage. Months later, the WNBA season has officially started without the two-time Olympic medalist.
Russian authorities had previously scheduled a hearing for Brittney Griner’s case for May 13. She faces a 10-year prison sentence if convicted.
Griner’s lawyer, Alexander Boikov, told the Associated Press he believes the relatively short extension of her detainment means the case will likely go to trial soon.
According to the Associated Press, Brittney Griner appeared in court with a red hoodie over her locks and her head held down with handcuffs on her wrists.
Brittney Griner appears headed for trial in Russia
In news that may bring hope to supporters, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson has joined her case. He previously helped secure the release of multiple hostages and detainees, including U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, a years-long Russian prisoner who was released at the end of April. His release sparked renewed interest in Griner’s case.
For months, the U.S. government had remained silent on Brittney Griner’s detainment, with leaders like Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee being one of the exceptions.
“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. Jackson-Lee said at a Houston press conference in March.
In recent weeks, the Biden Administration changed Griner’s status to “wrongfully detained,” following criticism over their perceived lack of action.
Yet the lack of visible progress on obtaining her release has caused growing anxiety among Griner’s family, friends and supporters.
While the WNBA and some NBA teams and players have raised awareness for Brittney Griner, the future of the Phoenix Mercury center remains uncertain as Russia continues its war of aggression against Ukraine.