WNBA star Brittney Griner’s pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month, her lawyer told The Associated Press.
Alexander Boykov, Griner’s lawyer, reportedly suggested the extension was relatively short, and said he believed Griner’s case could be headed to trial soon. Griner briefly appeared in court on Friday, May 13, as well.
Griner has been detained in Russia for three months. She was arrested in February after security at a Moscow-area airport allegedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her carry-on bag as she tried to enter the country.
Of her ongoing incarceration, Boykov said, “We did not receive any complaints about the detention conditions from our client.”
Griner’s agent, Lindsay Colas, said, “Regardless of Russian legal proceedings, Brittney Griner has been officially designated as Wrongfully Detained by the U.S. Government and has been held now for 85 days. As such — and out of respect for the sanctity of sport and to support the confidence of all athletes traveling abroad to compete — we expect the White House to use all options to bring her home immediately and safely.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. government announced that it officially considered Griner “wrongfully detained” in Russia. The decision signaled that the U.S. would take a more active role in trying to negotiate and secure her release, rather than letting Griner go through the Russian criminal justice system. To that end, former New Mexico governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, reportedly agreed to work on Griner’s case as well. Richardson has worked extensively as a hostage and prisoner negotiator, recently working to secure the release of Trevor Reed, a former Marine arrested in Russia in 2019 and sentenced to nine years in prison.
The re-classification of Griner’s case also changed the public-facing strategy of the campaign to help her. Previously, the U.S. government had advised Griner’s family, team, and supporters to keep a low profile, lest a media firestorm allow Russian president Vladimir Putin to turn Griner into an even bigger bargaining chip at a moment when relations between the U.S. and Russia are already heavily strained over the war in Ukraine. Now, Griner’s family and supporters, as well as members of Congress, are able to speak more openly about her case and push for her release.