A court near Moscow has decided to extend the detention of WNBA star Britney Grenier until May 19, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.
Greiner was detained at Moscow airport, reportedly in mid-February, after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed e-cigarette cartridges allegedly containing cannabis-derived oil, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The case of the 31-year-old Greiner, one of the most popular women’s basketball players, comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“The court approved the investigation request and extended the detention period for US citizen Grenier until May 19,” the court said, according to TASS.
The US embassy in Moscow did not immediately respond to calls from the Associated Press seeking comment.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that the State Department is “doing everything we can to support Britney Greiner to support her family, working with them to do everything we can, to see that she is treated appropriately and to seek her release.” in brief. He noted privacy considerations in not giving further details.
Ekaterina Kalugina of the Regional Public Monitoring Committee, a state-backed committee in Russia that monitors prisoners’ conditions, told TASS that Greiner was sharing his cell with two other detainees accused of drug offenses.
Kalugina said Greiner’s cellmates spoke English and helped her communicate with staff at the pre-trial detention center and obtain books.
“The only objective problem is the basketball player’s height,” TASS quotes Kalugina as saying of the 6-foot-9 Greiner. “Obviously, the beds in the dungeon are for someone of lower height.”
Griner won two Olympic golds with the United States, a WNBA championship with Phoenix Mercury and a national championship at Baylor. She is a star all seven times. The WNBA season begins May 6.
She was one of dozens of WNBA players who played in Russia or Ukraine last season. All but Greiner have left since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Greiner has played in Russia for the past seven years in the winter, and has made more than $1 million a season — more than four times her salary from the WNBA. She last played for her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg on January 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments. She was arrested in Moscow upon her return to Russia.
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has joined a growing group of family, friends and officials calling for her release along with a Tweet “Britney Free” Wednesday.
It is unclear how much progress has been made in the case because the Griner group has been quietly trying to work for her release and has refused to speak publicly since her arrest was announced earlier this month.
Greiner’s wife Cheryl thanked everyone for their support but said nothing else on social media.
“Everyone gets a strategy of doing less and pressing more privately behind the scenes,” WNBA commissioner Kathy Engelbert told The Associated Press on Wednesday. It’s the strategy you get from the State Department and the administration. It’s our number one priority talking with her agent and strategists.”
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