A Russian court on Tuesday extended the pre-trial detention of WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner for drug smuggling until July 2, extending her jail term to four months, the official state news agency TASS said.
The Khimki court in the Moscow region granted the 18-day extension at the request of investigators, the agency quoted the court’s press office as saying. It is typical of Russian courts to repeatedly extend detention until trial. Ms. Griner’s lawyer, Aleksandr Boikov, was not immediately available for comment.
The American basketball star was arrested four months ago after Russian officials said they found vape cartridges with traces of hash oil in her luggage while she was passing through Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow’s main international airport. The charge carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Ms. Griner was arrested on Feb. 17, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine, but officials did not disclose that she was being held until days after the war started, raising fears she could be used as a medium of exchange in the overall crisis. There has been some speculation that, once convicted, Ms. Griner could be part of a prisoner swap with the United States.
Ms. Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, plays for the Phoenix Mercury, and U.S. officials met with the team on Monday to discuss efforts to secure her release. In May, the State Department said it had determined that Ms Griner had been “unjustly detained.”
When she was taken into custody, Ms. Griner returned to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a professional women’s basketball team. Many WNBA players supplement their off-season income by playing internationally.