WNBA Star’s Detainment in Russia Extended to May | Athletic Business

WNBA Star’s Detainment in Russia Extended to May

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WNBA Phoenix Mercury star player Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February on alleged drug charges, will be detained in the country until mid-May, according to Russian authorities.

CNN reported Thursday that a Moscow court announced that the 31-year-old Griner’s arrest would be extended until May 19, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

"The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the US citizen Griner until May 19," the court said, per TASS and as reported by CNN.

The WNBA season opens May 6.

RELATED: Lawmaker Working to Help WNBA’s Griner Detained in Russia 

According to Russian authorities, the two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested on allegations of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance at a Moscow airport. US Rep. Colin Allred, a congressman from Texas, said she was arrested on Feb. 17. News of her arrest didn’t become public until early March, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and when sanctions were already underway against the country for its aggression, the AP reported.

TASS quoted Ekaterina Kalugina, whom it said represented Moscow's Public Monitoring Commission (ONK), which observes the treatment of prisoners. According to TASS, Kalugina visited Griner at her pre-trial detention center. Kalugina was also quoted as saying the US consul has not visited the 31-year-old, despite Russian authorities' willingness to "create all conditions" for their visit.

Earlier this month, Allred told ESPN that Griner had not been granted consular access — a circumstance he called "really unusual."

On Wednesday, former first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton became the latest politician to call for Griner’s release, sharing an article about Griner on Twitter with the caption "Free Brittney.”

Griner has played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2015 during the WNBA offseason, earning over $1 million per season — more than quadruple her WNBA salary, according to the AP report. Griner, one of the most recognizable players in women’s basketball, has won two Olympic gold medals with the U.S., a WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury and a national championship at Baylor, the Associated Press reports. She is a seven-time All-Star.

Griner last played for her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg on Jan. 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 returning to Russia, according to reports.

Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, has publicly called for Brittney's release, and USA Basketball, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), the Phoenix Mercury and the WNBA players' union have all publicly shared their concerns for Griner.

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