Brittney Griner to be detained in Russia for at least two more months

A Russian court ruled that Brittney Griner will be detained in the country through at least May 19, leaving the WNBA superstar in a precarious legal position.

“The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the US citizen Griner until May 19,” said Russian state media agency TASS.

Griner was arrested at the Moscow airport on Feb. 17; Russian authorities claimed she had vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage.

News of Griner’s arrest only became public in early March.

Griner is set to spend at least three months detained in Russia.
Griner is set to spend at least three months detained in Russia. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Video showed Griner walking into court on Thursday morning. Griner’s lawyers, family and American employers — and the U.S. government — have said very little about the situation publicly, likely in an attempt to keep the temperature low so Griner does not become a valuable pawn amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Everyone’s getting the strategy of say less and push more privately behind the scenes,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the AP. “It’s the strategy you get from the State Department and administration. It’s our No. 1 priority in talking with her agent and strategists.”

The WNBA season begins on May 6; it appears Griner will miss at least the first chunk of the season for the Phoenix Mercury.

Griner was the last WNBA player left in Russia after the invasion caused an exodus of American professional athletes. Many top women’s basketball players, including Griner, play in Russia in the WNBA offseason because they can earn several times their paltry WNBA salaries.

Griner was paid over $1 million annually by UMMC Ekaterinburg, more than four times the WNBA maximum. She played a game for Ekaterinburg on Jan. 29 and was arrested upon her return to the country after the Russian league took a two-week break for international qualifying.

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