Griner, who the US government has said is unjustly detained, will now be held until at least June 18, a court in Khimki near Moscow ruled on Friday, TASS reported, citing the court’s press service. As she exited a hearing at the Khimki Court on Friday, she was handcuffed and wearing an orange hoodie with her head bowed, an Associated Press photo shows.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist and star for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, Griner, 31, was arrested at a Moscow airport in February. Russian authorities said Griner had cannabis oil in her luggage and accused her of smuggling significant quantities of a narcotic – a crime carrying up to 10 years in prison. She had played for a Russian team in the WNBA offseason.
A Russian court announced in March that it had extended Griner’s detention until mid-May. A trial date has not been set, a source close to the situation told CNN at the time.
The US classified them as wrongly imprisoned
The US State Department has ruled Griner wrongly detained in Russia and her case is being handled by the Office of the President’s US Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, a State Department official confirmed to CNN last week. The office directs and coordinates the government’s diplomatic efforts aimed at securing the release of Americans unjustly detained abroad.
In addition to the work of the Biden administration, the Richardson Center, which privately advocates for families of hostages and inmates, is working on behalf of the Griner family to try to secure their release.
The WNBA views the federal authorities’ move to classify Griner as wrongly imprisoned as a “positive development and a next step in bringing her home,” a league spokesman said last week.
Griner was the No. 1 pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft and is one of the all-time all-time greats in the league.
The league, which started its 26th regular season last week without Griner, honors the seven-time All-Star with their initials and jersey number (42) on the sidelines of all 12 home courts. Griner will also be paid her full WNBA salary, the league said.
Last season, Griner came second in the Most Valuable Player Award poll. The 6-foot-9 center led the Mercury to the WNBA Finals where Phoenix lost to the Chicago Sky.