Brittney Griner’s Russian Detention Has Been Extended by At Least Six Months

Four months after being detained, the WNBA star appeared at a preliminary hearing.
Brittney Griner a twotime Olympic gold medallist and WNBA champion arriving to a hearing at the Khimki Court outside...
Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP via Getty Images

This story was originally published by Them.

Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia has been extended for the fourth time, with a Moscow court ruling that she will remain in Russian custody for an additional six months.

The WNBA star appeared at a closed-door preliminary hearing on Friday and was ordered to remain in custody for the remainder of her criminal trial, the Associated Press reported Monday. The 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury player was arrested at an airport in Moscow in February for allegedly possessing vape cartridges containing hash oil, but Russian authorities did not announce the news of her arrest until weeks later, in March.

The Russian Federal Customs Service is charging Griner with “large-scale transportation of drugs,” which carries a prison sentence of up to ten years. According to the AP, fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and acquittals can be overturned. 

The news comes almost a week after the U.S. State Department issued an apology for failing to appropriately coordinate a call between Griner and her wife, Cherelle, on their fourth anniversary. According to the AP, Cherelle spent the day waiting for a call that had been on the calendar for weeks. But despite Brittney attempting to contact her 11 times, the U.S. Embassy did not have anyone staffing the desk that was scheduled to receive the call.

“I was distraught. I was hurt. I was done, fed up,” Cherelle told the AP. “I’m pretty sure I texted BG’s agent and was like: ‘I don’t want to talk to anybody. It’s going to take me a minute to get my emotions together, and just tell everybody I’m unavailable right now.’ Because it just knocked me out. I wasn’t well, I’m still not well.”

She added, “I find it unacceptable and I have zero trust in our government right now. If I can’t trust you to catch a Saturday call outside of business hours, how can I trust you to actually be negotiating on my wife’s behalf to come home? Because that’s a much bigger ask than to catch a Saturday call.”

Cherelle also said that she had still not yet met with President Joe Biden, and while she was still hoping to do so, “at this point it’s starting to feel like a no.”

The State Department declared that Griner had been wrongfully detained in May, which supposedly meant that it would work more aggressively to secure her release.