Two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner will remain detained in Russia for at least another month after her arrest at a Moscow airport in February
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American basketball player Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for at least another month after being arrested for drug smuggling.
Griner, 31, was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17 after officers allegedly discovered two e-cigarette cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage. “Hash oil” is an illegal substance in Russia, punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Almost three months after their arrest, the Phoenix Mercury Center – which also represents UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League – is still awaiting trial. Her attorney, Alexander Boikov, told the Associated Press, but the relatively short extension period indicated her case could soon be heard.
“The court granted the request for an investigation and extended the detention of US citizen Griner until June 18,” the court confirmed, according to the Russian news agency TASS. A statement given to CNN claimed Griner was “caught in the act trying to smuggle hash oil.”
A former Baylor college star, Griner was drafted by Phoneix in 2013 and is considered one of the biggest names in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She also won two Olympic gold medals with the United States and led her country to victory in Rio 2016 before successfully defending her crown in Tokyo last year.
Griner’s imprisonment has been criticized by US officials, who claim the athlete was “wrongly imprisoned” and should be released. Tensions between Russia and the West are at a peak amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Tass also quoted an unnamed government official on the Public Monitoring Commission as saying talks are underway to swap Griner for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Bout – nicknamed “The Merchant of Death” – was arrested in 2008 as part of a covert operation in Thailand, then extradited to the US and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Bout, 55, has been charged with conspiring to supply weapons to a Colombia-based terrorist organization. Public outcry after Griner’s release was widespread, but her arrest presents Russia with a major opportunity to recover one of her assets through the stock market.
“I would like to take a moment to reiterate the WNBA’s support for Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in an April statement. “Please note that getting them home safely remains our top priority and while we face an extraordinarily complex challenge, there is strength in the community, particularly in the WNBA.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/other-sports/american-sports/brittney-griner-us-basketball-russia-26958347 US basketball star Brittney Griner's detention in Russia has been extended by a month