WNBA star detention in Russia extended by month

MOSCOW, Russia (Transatlantic Today) – On Friday, Brittney Griner’s pre-trial imprisonment in Russia was prolonged for another month as the US seeks to secure her freedom. 

Griner’s pre-trial custody has been prolonged until June 18, according to her attorney, Alexander Boikov. 

According to Russian media, Russia and the United States are negotiating the prospect of trading Griner for Victor Bout, a Russian weapons dealer imprisoned in the United States. 

Boikov stated that he had no knowledge of a possible swap. 

The State Department verified that ambassadors from the US embassy in Moscow were present at the court and spoke with her. 

Griner has been doing as well as anyone could given such circumstances, according to spokesperson Ned Price. 

Griner earlier met with a US consular official in Russia on March 24 as part of a drive by the US to secure access to the WNBA star. 

Griner’s imprisonment was extended just a week after the US State Department classed her as “wrongfully detained” in Russia. 

Last week, a State Department spokesman told ABC News that the US is “very concerned” about the absence of regular diplomatic access to these American citizens in recent weeks. 

Griner, a 2-time Olympic gold winner, was detained in February at a Moscow-area airport for reportedly carrying vape cartridges in her baggage containing hashish oil, which is illegal in Russia. 

According to Russian news reports, she is currently facing drug charges that might result in a ten-year sentence, and her pre-trial custody was extended from March to May 19. 

Following the freedom of Marine veteran Trevor Reed from a Russian penitentiary as part of a prisoner swap last month, calls for Griner’s release grew louder. 

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia began a week after Griner was arrested on February 17. Some officials fear that Americans imprisoned in Russia will be used as a bargaining chip in the ongoing confrontation. 

As the 2022 season began on Friday, the WNBA honored Griner with a floor decal depicting her name and jersey number (42) on the sidelines of all 12 WNBA clubs.

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