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Russia extends Brittney Griner’s detention another month

By Associated Press

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

MOSCOW — The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner said Friday her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month.

Alexander Boykov told The Associated Press he believed the relatively short extension of the detention indicated the case would come to trial soon. She has been in detention for nearly three months.

She appeared for the brief hearing handcuffed, her dreadlocks covered in a red hoodie and her face held low.

Boykov said “We did not receive any complaints about the detention conditions from our client.”

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained at a Moscow airport after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The Biden administration says Griner, 31, is being wrongfully detained. The WNBA and U.S. officials have worked toward her release, without visible progress.

The Russians have described Griner’s case as a criminal offense without making any political associations.

But it comes amid Moscow’s war in Ukraine that has brought U.S.-Russian relations to the lowest level since the Cold War.

Despite the strain, Russia and the United States carried out an unexpected prisoner exchange last month — trading retired Marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. While the U.S. does not typically embrace such exchanges, it made the deal in part because Yaroshenko had already served a long portion of his prison sentence.

The Russians may consider Griner a potential part of another such exchange.

The State Department last week said it now regards Griner as wrongfully detained, a change in classification that suggests the U.S. government will be more active in trying to secure her release even while the legal case plays out. The status change places her case under the purview of the department’s Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, which is responsible for negotiating for the release of hostages and Americans considered wrongfully detained.

Also working on the case now is a center led by Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who helped the release of multiple hostages and detainees, including Reed.

It’s not entirely clear why the U.S. government, which for weeks had been more circumspect in its approach, reclassified Griner as a wrongful detainee. But under federal law, there are a number of factors that go into such a characterization, including if the detention is based on being an American or if the detainee has been denied due process

U.S. State Dept. spokesman Ned Price has confirmed that U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan had a meeting with Russian counterparts but would not say whether Griner was discussed or talk any further about her case.

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Dive Deeper:
EXPLAINER: WNBA star Brittney Griner's detention in Russia
As WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner approaches the three-month mark of her detention in Russia, she…
WNBA star Brittney Griner's detention in Moscow extended by one month
US basketball star Brittney Griner has her pre-trial detention in Russia lengthened, with her lawyer saying the relatively short extension…
WNBA star Brittney Griner's detention in Russia is extended by a month
The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner said Friday her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month.
Brittney Griner Seen For The First Time Since Arrest In Russia, Pre-Trial Detention Extended
Brittney Griner appeared in a Russian courtroom for the first time since she was arrested in February for allegedly carrying…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
US basketball star Brittney Griner's detention in Russia extended by one month
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Brittney Griner will spend at least one more month being detained in Russia following her arrest…
Russian court extends WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention
US basketball star’s lawyer says he believes one-month extension indicates the case would come to trial soon.
Get all your news in one place