Trouble doesn’t seem to end for the US basketball star Brittney Griner, who has been held in Russia since February on accusations of drug smuggling. Now, Russia has extended the WNBA star’s detention, and she will remain in Russian custody through at least July 2. Read on to learn more about this move.
Detention Extended Once Again…
The 31-year-old American basketball player Brittney Griner has been held in Russia since February when she was detained at a Moscow airport after authorities there claimed she was carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. Last month, the U.S. Department of State reclassified her as “wrongfully detained”.
Russian authorities claimed that the two-time Olympic gold medalist and star of WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury was carrying cannabis oil in her luggage and accused her of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance, an offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Used As a Political Pawn…
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday: “Our position for some time on this has been very clear: Brittney Griner should not be detained. She should not be detained for a single day longer.”
Brittney Griner’s detention has been extended repeatedly. Previously, a Russian court extended her pretrial detention until mid-May. Not only this, last month, the 31-year-old star basketball player’s detention was extended once again until June 18. Now, the court decided that Brittney will remain in Russian custody through at least July 2.
Well, it appears that it is a tactical move by Russia as it continued to use Brittney Griner as a political bait amid tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Well, Brittney’s agent Lindsay also stated that she is being used as a “political pawn”. In light of this, supporters, including Griner’s family and the WNBA, have vigorously advocated for her release.
Griner’s case rests in the hands of the office of the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. The office is responsible to secure the release of Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad. Previously, it secured the release of US citizen Trevor Reed in a late April prisoner swap with Russia.
The State Department officials and staff members of the Mercury met on Monday to discuss Griner’s case. Mercury guard Diana Taurasi said: “It’s something that we’ve all talked about intimately as a group, and now knowing the State Department at the highest level, from U.S. President Joe Biden to the team that is working on bringing back all Americans who are wrongfully detained, gives us a lot of confidence that they’re working on it.”
Well, the decision to extend Brittney’s detention comes just a day after Mercury’s meeting. Fans across the United States are praying for Brittney’s safe return to her homeland. As for the drug charges, what do you think? Did the Russians falsely charge her? Shoot your thoughts.