Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner‘s pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month after she appeared at a brief hearing Friday, according to multiple reports. She is being detained on drug smuggling charges and has reportedly been in Russian custody since February.
Earlier this month, the U.S. officials reclassified the seven-time All-Star as “wrongly detained,” signaling that they would work more aggressively to get her released, even as her court case continues. Diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow attended the hearing Friday and were able to speak with Griner, a State Department official told The Athletic.
The official declined to comment on her detention being extended but reiterated the stance that Griner was wrongfully detained, adding that they are “closely engaged on this case and in frequent contact” with Griner’s legal team.
Griner’s Russian lawyer, Alexander Boykov, told The Associated Press on Friday that he “believed the relatively short extension of the detention indicated the case would come to trial soon.” He added that he hasn’t received “any complaints” from Griner about her detention conditions.
“She is doing as well as can be expected in these circumstances,” the State Department official added.
The Russian Federal Customs Service said its officials had detained an American basketball player after finding vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow, The New York Times reported on March 5. A Russian court originally extended Griner’s detention until May 19, a person close to the situation confirmed to The Athletic on March 1.
Griner, 31, has played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia for several years during the WNBA offseason.
The 2022 WNBA season tipped off last week. The league is honoring Griner by featuring her initials and jersey number on the sidelines of all 12 courts in the league, and she will receive her full salary for the season. The Mercury were also granted both roster and salary cap relief so they can carry a replacement player until Griner is ready to return.
Every WNBA market will also support Griner’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive, an initiative she founded in 2016 to support the homeless population.
(Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko-Associated Press)