Russia has extended WNBA star and former Olympian Brittney Griner’s arrest and detention for at least another 60 days, the Daily Mail reported on Thursday.
Russian authorities took the basketball player into custody in February after it was reported that she had a cannabis-filled vape pen on her person while traveling in the country in February.
What are the details?
A Moscow court announced that it opted to extend Griner’s arrest until May 19.
“The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the U.S. citizen Griner until May 19,” CNN reported, citing Russian state news agency TASS.
According to the Daily Mail report, Griner — who was seen for the first time on Thursday — appeared at a Moscow courthouse after authorities extended her prison stay to at least May 19.
Video footage showed Griner walking through what appeared to be a courthouse and giving a backward glance to a stationary camera.
Griner, the outlet noted, pleaded not guilty to drug charges.
Ekaterina Kalugina — member of the Public Monitoring Commission, a human rights watchdog group with access to Russian prisons — said that Griner, who is 6’9″, has only complained thus far about small beds. She added that the jail facility — which remains unnamed at the time of this reporting — has not seen any visits from the U.S. consulate and can’t fathom why the consulate has yet to schedule any visits with Griner.
“[F]or an unknown reason, the U.S. consul does not come to [see Griner], although the administration of the pre-trial detention center is ready to create all conditions for a visit,” Kalugina stated, adding that Griner’s current cellmates have no previous convictions and have also been charged with drug-related offenses.
Her English-speaking cellmates, Kalugina states, have helped her order books, including those by Fyodor Dostoevsky and more.
In an early statement on Griner’s arrest, the athlete’s wife — Cherelle Griner — called for the basketball star’s release.
“I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life,” she said at the time. “I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely. Your prayers, and support are greatly appreciated.”
Earlier this month, Eveyln Farkas, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine, said that she has fears that Russia may try to use Griner as a “high-profile hostage” and insisted that if the U.S. wants Griner out of jail, “Russia is going to have some terms.”
“It could be a prisoner swap,” Farkas explained. “They could also use it as an implicit threat or blackmail to get us to do something or not do something. Either way, they find it useful.”