MOSCOW — WNBA star Brittney Griner had her pre-trial detention in Russia prolonged by one month Friday, her lawyer mentioned.
Alexander Boykov informed The Associated Press he thinks the comparatively brief extension indicated that Griner’s case would go to trial quickly. The 31-year-old American basketball participant has been in custody for almost three months.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who performs for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained at a Moscow airport in February after vape cartridges containing oil derived from hashish had been allegedly present in her baggage. She faces drug smuggling costs that carry a most penalty of 10 years in jail.
Griner appeared for the temporary listening to at a court docket exterior Moscow handcuffed, carrying an orange hoodie and holding her face down. She didn’t categorical ‘any complaints concerning the detention circumstances,’ Boykov mentioned.
The Biden administration says Griner is being wrongfully detained. The WNBA and U.S. officers have labored towards her launch, with out seen progress.
‘Today’s information on Brittney Griner was not surprising, and the WNBA continues to work with the U.S. authorities to get BG residence safely and as quickly as attainable,’ the basketball league mentioned in an announcement.
State Dept spokesman Ned Price mentioned diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow spoke with Griner on Friday and reported she ‘is doing in addition to might be anticipated in these circumstances.’
Russian officers have described Griner’s case as a prison offense with out making any political associations. But Moscow’s battle in Ukraine has introduced U.S.-Russia relations to the bottom stage for the reason that Cold War.
Despite the pressure, Russia and the United States carried out an surprising prisoner trade final month – buying and selling former Marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal jail sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
While the U.S. doesn’t usually embrace such exchanges, it made the deal partially as a result of Yaroshenko had already served a protracted portion of his sentence.
The Russians could contemplate Griner somebody who might determine into one other such trade.
The State Department final week mentioned it now regards Griner as wrongfully detained, a change in classification that means the U.S. authorities will likely be extra lively in attempting to safe her launch even whereas the authorized case performs out.
The standing change locations her case below the purview of the division’s Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, which is liable for negotiating for the discharge of hostages and Americans thought-about wrongfully detained.
Also engaged on the case now’s a middle led by Bill Richardson, the previous U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who helped safe the discharge of a number of hostages and detainees, together with Reed.
It’s not fully clear why the U.S. authorities, which for weeks had been extra circumspect in its method, reclassified Griner as a wrongful detainee. But below federal regulation, there are a selection of things that go into such a characterization, together with if the detention relies on being an American or if the detainee has been denied due course of
Besides Griner, one other American considered unjustly detained in Russia is Paul Whelan, a company safety government from Michigan. Whelan was arrested in December 2018 whereas visiting for a buddy’s wedding ceremony and was later sentenced to 16 years in jail on espionage-related costs his household has mentioned are bogus.