Updated Jun 14, 2022 - World

Russian court again extends Brittney Griner's detention

Brittney Griner before a basketball game in Washington, D.C., in 2015.

Brittney Griner before a basketball game in Washington, D.C., in 2015. Photo: Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A Russian court extended American basketball star Brittney Griner's detention for a second time on Tuesday, meaning she will remain in custody until at least July 2, according to Russian state media.

Why it matters: Griner has been in pre-trial detention since she was detained at a Moscow-area airport in February after authorities claimed that they found vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage.

  • She was charged with drug smuggling, and her detention has now been extended two times.
  • The U.S. State Department considers Griner "wrongfully detained" by Russia.
  • It has also warned other Americans to not travel to Russia because the Kremlin may be specifically targeting Americans for arrest, potentially for the purpose of exchanging them for Russians held in American prisons.

What they're saying: "Brittney Griner should not be detained. She should not be detained for a single day longer," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press conference on Tuesday.

  • "This case is problematic from top to bottom. It is precisely why we have characterized Brittney Griner as a 'wrongful detainee.' It's precisely why we doing everything we can to see to effect her prompt release from Russian detention," Price added.
  • Price said the U.S. Embassy in Russia was made aware of Griner's detention extension through Russia state media and was not formally notified by Russian authorities.
  • Price said former Marine Paul Whelan, who in 2020 was sentenced by a Russian court to 16 years in prison on spying charges that he, his family and the U.S. said are false, should also not be detained any longer.

The big picture: Former Marine Trevor Reed, who was held in a Russian prison since 2019 before being released in April, called on the Biden administration and Congress last week to increase efforts to release Griner, even if it means more prisoner swaps.

  • Reed warned that Griner may face greater challenges inside Russia's prison system than he did because of her race and sexual orientation.

Go deeper: Brittney Griner's wife urges Biden to bring detained player home

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