Brittney Griner Is Being Held in Russia Two More Months
by Anna Montagner
18 March 2022
According to Russian media, WNBA star Brittney Griner – who was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17 for carrying vape cartridges allegedly containing oil derived from cannabis – will see her pre-trial custody extended until May 19.
As explained by Tom Firestone, a former US Justice Department legal resident advisor to the US Embassy in Moscow, trail delays are standard in Russia. In this case, the deferment comes as a result of the prosecutors’ request to investigate Griner's case. The 31-year-old player could be detained for up to a year, or 18 months in extraordinary circumstances, before finally facing trial.
Griner is represented by local attorney Alexander Boykov, who has carried out multiple attempts to improve her legal condition. He asked for Griner’s transfer to house arrest as she awaits to stand in court, and found a volunteer who offered to put her up for the duration of her case. He also presented the judge letters from "the women's team in Ekaterinburg" that Griner plays for, vouching for her critical role among the team and the world sports scene. Nevertheless, these petitions are common and, according to experts, unlikely to succeed.
The most important thing — amidst this political chaos — is that the two-time Olympic champion is reportedly doing well. Her imprisonment, in fact, comes as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine and challenges its already tense relationship with the US. According to a source in conversation with CNN, Griner has been visited by her legal team multiple times and they were able to report her physical and mental wellness.
Ekaterina Kalugina of the regional Public Monitoring Commission, which monitors prisoners' conditions, told Russian news agency Tass that Griner was sharing a cell with two other female detainees who spoke English and helped her communicate with the staff at the detention center. "The only objective problem has turned out to be the basketball player's height,” Kalugina said, adding that “the beds in the cell are clearly intended for a person of lesser height."
Griner’s legal team have yet to comment on the accusation of illegal import of narcotics and how the player intends to plead to the charges. She could receive a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Photo via Getty/ Mike Mattina