Brittney Griner: American basketball star’s arrest in Russia is extended
American basketball player Brittney Griner’s arrest in Russia has been extended again. According to Russian state media, the Phoenix Mercury star of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) will remain in detention until at least July 2. Brittney, 31, was arrested on February 17 after she was caught with hash oil, a marijuana derivative, inside an e-cigarette cartridge.
The Russian court had previously extended the jail term to May 19 and then again until mid-June, according to US broadcaster CBS News.
This Tuesday, according to the Russian state agency Tass, a representative of the Khimki Court, on the outskirts of Moscow, reported that the athlete must remain in prison for another 18 days at the “request of the investigation”. The American can spend up to 10 years behind bars if she is convicted.
Brittney is a two-time Olympic champion — she was part of the teams that won gold medals at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Games. During the offseason, she plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg, Russia. The player’s situation motivated protests in the United States, especially in Phoenix, where the athlete works and the recreational consumption of marijuana has been regulated since mid-2020.
The Griner case has also become a diplomatic issue. According to Tim Kaine, a senator from the US state of Virginia, Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to use the player as a “bargaining currency” amid the crisis between Moscow and Washington, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price defended that the player “should not remain in detention for even a single day”. Last month, almost 100 days after the arrest, the Ministry determined that the American was “unjustly detained”. On Monday, State Department officials met with Biruney’s WNBA teammates to discuss the government’s work to bring her home.
“There are a lot of issues involved in the process of bringing her back home, but they are working tirelessly,” Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi said after the meeting, in a statement released by the team. She added: “We are here to do what we can, to keep BG a priority, this is more important than any basketball game and anything else that is going on in our lives.”
Source: O Globo Agency