Olympian & WNBA athlete Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for possessing vape cartridges containing hashish oil. Russian state news agency TASS has stated the Russian court heading the investigation into the drug charge against her has extended the American basketball star’s detention.
Brittney Griner’s Detainment Extended
A Russian court in charge of the investigation on Griner’s drug charge has extended the detention in Russia until May 19th. As a result, Griner will have spent more than three months in Russian custody with no indication of her release date.
The TASS report cited the Khimki Court of the Moscow region for the update on Griner’s status. Ekaterina Kalugina, a human rights activist from Russia’s Public Monitoring Commission, informed TASS that Griner is sharing a cell with two other women also charged with first-time, drug-related offenses.
TASS quoted Kalugina stating that officials from the US Embassy had not visited Griner, even though Russian officials were willing to “create all conditions” for a visit, and contradicts US Congressman Colin Allred (D-Texas), who spoke to The Washington Post last week that the US Embassy officials were denied access to Griner.
“The fact we’ve requested consular access and it has not been granted is very unusual and extremely concerning,” Allred said at the time, and accused Russia of “violating international norms.”
Yesterday, former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted support for Griner, sharing a news story with the caption “Free Brittney” on Twitter.
Who is Brittney Griner?
Brittney Griner is a 31-year-old African-American professional basketball player for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury team. She played college basketball for the Baylor Lady in Waco, Texas, and was the only NCAA player to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots. In 2012, she was named the AP Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
Griner played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg for several years during the American league’s off-season – a common practice for US athletes.
Griner Detained For Alleged Hashish Possession
On Saturday, March 5th, Russian officials announced they had detained an American basketball player and Olympic gold medalist, but did not identify the athlete as Griner. According to Russia’s Interfax News Agency,” ‘As a US citizen was passing through the green channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York, a working dog from the Sheremetyevo Customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage.’”
Russian Federal Customs Service did not release the player’s name, but the Russian news agency TASS, who cited a law enforcement source, identified the player as Brittney Griner. Russian Federal Customs Service said officials had detained the player after finding vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow. A video was released of a traveler going through airport security, appearing to be Griner.
Support Pours In
Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has posted to social media and shared that she is devastated over Brittney’s detainment in Russia. Griner says their family is in pain and that she misses Brittney’s voice, indicating that the Olympian has had little or no contact with family since being detained.
Griner is also getting support from ex-wife, Glory B. Johnson, who has sent prayers for Brittney in her own Instagram post and TV host and Navy and Marine Corps veteran Montel Williams, who has said he believes she has been “wrongfully detained.”