Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia has been extended for a month, Russian media report

Griner, who the US government says is being wrongfully detained, can now be held in pre-trial detention until at least June 18, a court in Khimki, near Moscow, said on Friday, TASS reported, citing the news service of the court.

Coming out of a hearing Friday at the Khimki court, she was handcuffed, wearing an orange hoodie with her head bowed, an Associated Press photo shows.

A U.S. Embassy official was able to speak with Griner on the sidelines of his hearing Friday morning, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“The officer was able to confirm that Brittney Griner is doing as well as expected in what can only be described as extremely difficult circumstances,” Price said in a conference call Friday.

Supporters, including Griner’s family and the WNBA, have vigorously advocated for his release, with some concerned that Russia is using Griner as a political pawn amid tensions between that nation and the United States over the invasion. Russian from Ukraine.
Griner, 31, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA Phoenix Mercury star, was arrested in February at a Moscow airport. Russian authorities said Griner had cannabis oil in her luggage and charged her with smuggling large amounts of a narcotic substance, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. She had played for a Russian team during the WNBA offseason.
A Russian court announced in March that it had extended Griner’s pretrial detention until mid-May. A trial date had not been set, a source close to the situation told CNN.

The United States classified her as wrongfully detained

Friday’s extension of Griner’s remand “was not unexpected,” a WNBA spokesperson said, “and the WNBA continues to work with the U.S. government to bring BG home safely and as soon as possible”.

The US State Department has classified Griner as wrongfully detained in Russia, and her case is being handled by the Office of the US Presidential Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, a State Department official confirmed to CNN today. last week. The office leads the government’s diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Americans wrongfully detained overseas.
This office played a major role in securing the release of US citizen and Navy veteran Trevor Reed from Russia last month. Reed was released in a prisoner exchange for Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko.
The Richardson Center, which privately advocates for the families of hostages and detainees, also said it was working on behalf of the Griner family to try to secure his release.

Griner was the No. 1 pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft and is one of the league’s greatest players of all time.

The league, which entered its 26th regular season last week without Griner, honors the seven-time star with his initials and jersey number (42) on the sidelines of the 12 home courts. Griner will also receive his full WNBA salary, the league said.

Last season, Griner finished second in voting for the Most Valuable Player award. The 6-foot-9 center led the Mercury to the WNBA Finals, where Phoenix lost to the Chicago Sky.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Ellie Kaufman, Homero DeLaFuente, Wayne Sterling, Aya Elamroussi and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

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