WNBA Star Brittney Griner's Pre-Trial Detention in Russia Extended by a Month

Brittney Griner's attorney gave an update about her pre-trial detainment in Moscow following her February arrest. Find out what’s next for the WNBA star, who was photographed at a court hearing.

By Corinne Heller May 13, 2022 5:18 PMTags
Watch: Brittney Griner's Wife Speaks Out After Arrest

WNBA star Brittney Griner won't be returning to the basketball court anytime soon.

A Russian court has extended her pre-trial detention by one month, her lawyer says.

The athlete, who plays for a Russian basketball team during the U.S. league's off-season, was arrested in February at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for allegedly possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. If convicted, Griner could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in a Russian jail.

At a brief hearing on May 13, Griner, 31, appeared in person. The Phoenix Mercury star was handcuffed, wearing a hoodie and standing with her face held low. Her lawyer, Alexander Boykov, later told the Associated Press that he believed the relatively short extension of the detention indicated that her case would come to trial soon.

At the hearing, Boykov also said, "We did not receive any complaints about the detention conditions from our client," per the Associated Press.

U.S. officials have been working to try to secure the release of Griner, who was arrested in mid-February amid growing global tensions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "We made clear that we consider Brittney Griner to be wrongfully detained," U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a press briefing on May 11. "We are working very closely on her case."

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On March 23, Price told CNN that an official from the U.S. embassy in Moscow found Griner to be "in good condition" after meeting with her a day earlier in what marked the first time American officials were given access to the athlete since her arrest.

"We were able to check on her condition, we will continue to work very closely with her legal team, with her broader network, to see to it that she is treated fairly," Price said, adding that the U.S. government "will continue to do everything we can" to ensure that Griner receives fair treatment amid her detainment.

AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, has rallied behind the star. After the hearing, she reposted on her Instagram Story a post from Griner's Phoenix Mercury teammate Skylar Diggins-Smith, who wrote, "85 days too long….love you sis, free you until it's backwards #weareBG."

In March, Griner's wife wrote on Instagram, "My heart, our hearts, are all skipping beats everyday that goes by. I miss your voice. I miss your presence. You're our person! There are no words to express this pain. I'm hurting, we're hurting. We await the day to love on you as a family."

Instagram / Cherelle Griner

The WNBA has also publicly expressed support for Griner amid her detention. In response to news about her pre-trial detention being extended, the organization said in a statement to E! News, "Today's news on Brittney Griner was not unexpected, and the WNBA continues to work with the U.S. government to get BG home safely and as soon as possible."

The WNBA, whose 2022 season began on May 6, said the star's initials and jersey number (42) will be displayed along the sidelines of all 12 of its courts. The league also said Griner will be paid her full salary during her absence.

"As we begin the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community,"  WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement on May 3. "We continue to work on bringing Brittney home and are appreciative of the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily challenging time."

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