A Russian court on Friday decided to extend until June 18 the detention of American basketball star Brittney Griner, who was arrested at Moscow airport in February and suspected of transporting narcotics, the official CASS news agency reported.
• Also read: Washington judges basketball player Griner “unfairly imprisoned” by Russia
The court in Khimki, on the Moscow suburbs, “accepted investigators’ request and extended the detention of American citizen Griner until June 18,” said the press service of that court, quoted by the agency.
Griner, a Phoenix Mercury player, two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion, was arrested in Russia after “vapes” and “a liquid with a peculiar smell” of cannabis oil (hash oil) were discovered in her carry-on luggage in February, according to Information from the Russian Federal Customs Service.
His pre-trial detention was initially ordered until May 19th.
The United States recently believed that Brittney Griner was “unfairly imprisoned” by Russia and is calling for her release.
“A consular officer from our embassy in Moscow was able to speak to him on the sidelines of the hearing,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington in court on Friday. “This officer was able to confirm that Brittney Griner is doing as well as possible given what we can only describe as overly difficult circumstances,” he added.
Following Griner’s arrest, which came amid international tensions surrounding the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine, the American federation USA Basketball had voiced its “concerns” about the “safety” and “goodness” of the player risking five to ten years in prison.
On Thursday, Russian news site Gazeta.ru, citing a source within Russia’s prison service, claimed that it was “very likely” Griner would be swapped for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and a 25-year-old Prison sentence serving -year sentence in US.
That release came as former US Marine Trevor Reed, who had been sentenced to nine years in Russia for violence, was swapped in late April for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who has been jailed in the US since 2010.
Griner, 31, 2m06, had actively participated in Phoenix’s 3rd WNBA title in 2014.
Many WNBA players compete in European leagues in the US offseason, including the Russian and Ukrainian leagues.
The American therefore played for several seasons in the jersey of the Russian team from Ekaterinburg, with whom she won the Women’s Euroleague four times.