It was revealed on Saturday, March 5, that WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia on Feb. 17 over vape charges while attempting to return to the U.S. at the height of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Following a court appearance on Thursday (March 17), Griner, 31, will remain in Russian custody until May 19. “The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the U.S. citizen Griner until May 19,” as reported by the state news agency Tass.
Officials said she’s being accused of drug trafficking. Tom Firestone, a former U.S. Justice Department legal resident advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, shared that a delay of this nature is standard in Russia and unfortunately, Griner may be held without trial for up to a year, or up to 18 months in extreme cases.
Griner’s legal team requested that she be released under house arrest while awaiting trial. Her local attorney, Alexander Boykov, argued that prosecutors took too long to charge her or provide her access to a lawyer or U.S. Consulate officials. She was reportedly held for 16 hours at the border customs office. However, their request for house arrest was denied.
Tass also reported that “Griner fully supports her lawyers’ position, although she refuses to take part in the hearing of the arguments. Neither Griner nor her lawyers have contested the accusation of illegal import of narcotics. They have not claimed she is innocent.”
Ned Price, U.S. State Department spokesperson, shared on Tuesday that they’re “doing everything we can to support Brittney Griner to support her family, and to work with them to do everything we can, to see that she is treated appropriately and to seek her release.”
During the WNBA off-season, Griner played professional basketball in Russia. She was one of 12 players who were currently playing professionally in either Russia or Ukraine and all except her have returned home. She has spent nine seasons with the Phoenix Mercury and is a two-time Olympic gold medalist.