Basketball star Brittney Griner received bad news on Friday, as her Russian detention was extended once again. According to the Associated Press, during a court hearing, her incarceration was extended for another 30 days. Her lawyer, Alexander Boykov, said he thinks the “relatively short extension of the detention” means her case will go to trial soon.
The Phoenix Mercury center has been detained in Russia since February when police say they found vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage. Despite warnings that Americans leave the country before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Griner was rejoining her Russian team. WNBA players spend their off-seasons playing overseas, because that’s where they actually make the majority of their money.
Griner’s detainment has been exacerbated by the strained relationship between Russia and the United States. With minimal staff at the Embassy, it took some time before she was able to get consular access. At the time she was reported as being in “good condition” and Boykov told AP “We did not receive any complaints about the detention conditions from our client.”
There was a small amount of good news last week when the U.S. government officially classified Griner as wrongfully detained. Her case is being worked on by international hostage negotiator Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who worked on the recent prisoner exchange involving former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed. The change in status allows Brittney’s family and friends to publicly advocate for her release, and for the government to enter into negotiations with Russia without waiting for her case to work its way through Russia’s legal system.
The WNBA wasted no time showing its love and support for the two-time Olympic gold medalist. As the season began, the league announced that the sidelines of every team’s court would feature the message “BG 42,” her initials and number. Mercury players are sporting warm up t-shirts that read “We Are BG” and the team is using it as its social media hashtag for the season. Though the league must continue with its schedule, it’s clear they want to make sure Brittney’s case is not forgotten.