When reports broke that Brittney Griner had been detained in Russia for possession of cannabis products, many wondered whether she could be used as a pawn by Putin and the Russians against the Americans during the war in Ukraine. Now, it looks like those initial fears could be playing out before our eyes.
According to a report out of Russian state news agency Tass (via ESPN), a court in Moscow has extended her detention in the country until May 19.
A statement from the court read, “The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the U.S. citizen Griner until May 19.”
Brittany was detained in Russia on February 17 after authorities at a Moscow airport found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The products are illegal in Russia and carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Griner has been playing in Russia during the winter for the last seven years, as her $1-million yearly salary there is more than four-times the amount she makes in America. Her team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, was on a two-week break at the beginning of February. She was arrested upon her return.
Officials in the U.S. have been working on ensuring her safety and having her released. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said they’re “”doing everything we can to support Brittney Griner to support her family, and to work with them to do everything we can, to see that she is treated appropriately and to seek her release.”
Progress on that front remains unclear as much of the work has been done “quietly” and “privately.”