Brittney Griner Russia: Court extends WNBA star's arrest into May, state agency reports

Brittney Griner in Russia because she plays for UMMC Ekaterinburg

ByHomero de la Fuente and Richard Greene, CNN, CNNWire
Thursday, March 17, 2022
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According to Russian authorities, the two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested on allegations of drug smuggling significant amounts of narcotic substance at a Moscow airport.

MOSCOW -- A Moscow court announced it has extended the arrest of American basketball star Brittney Griner until May 19, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

"The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the US citizen Griner until May 19," the court said, per TASS.

According to Russian authorities, the two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested on allegations of drug smuggling significant amounts of narcotic substance at a Moscow airport. U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, a congressman from Texas, said she was arrested on Feb. 17.

TASS also quoted Ekaterina Kalugina, whom it said represented Moscow's Public Monitoring Commission (ONK), which observes the treatment of prisoners.

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According to TASS, Kalugina visited Griner at her pre-trial detention center. Kalugina was also quoted as saying the U.S. consul has not visited the 31-year-old, despite Russian authorities' willingness to "create all conditions" for their visit.

Earlier this month, Allred told ESPN that Griner had not been granted consular access -- a circumstance he called "really unusual."

On Wednesday, former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became the latest U.S. politician to call for her release, sharing an article on Griner with the caption "Free Brittney" in a post on Twitter.

Griner currently plays for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg. Griner has played with the team since 2015 during the WNBA offseason. In five games this season she is averaging 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

In 2014, the American Iranian journalist Jason Rezaian was detained in Tehran and spent 544 days in Iran's notorious Evin Prison.

RELATED: WNBA Brittney Griner: US ready to assist basketball player arrested in Russia

The Washington Post reporter was eventually released in January 2016, and he sees many parallels between his case and Griner's.

"It's the most audacious hostage taking by a state imaginable," Rezaian told CNN.

"I know from my own case that the supposed charges against me were not based in anything like reality, and they were used to perpetuate a narrative about why I was being held."

Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, has publicly called for Brittney's release.

USA Basketball, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), the Phoenix Mercury and the WNBA players' union have all publicly shared their concerns for Griner.

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