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Russia Extends Detention of WNBA Player Brittney Griner Yet Again

Russia Extends Detention of WNBA Player Brittney Griner Yet Again

A Russian court has just lengthened the detention of basketball star Brittney Griner until at least July 2, marking the third time the country has made such a decision.

Griner, 31, has been in Russian custody since February 2022 when she was stopped by Moscow airport authorities who accused her of having vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her bags, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. State Department has since worked to maintain consistent contact with Griner.

“This case is problematic from top to bottom,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “It is precisely why we have characterized Brittney Griner as an unlawful detainee. It’s precisely why we are doing everything we can to seek and to affect her prompt release from Russian detention.”

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and member of the Phoenix Mercury, was in Moscow during the WNBA offseason to play basketball for the Russian Premier League team UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Since the new season began in the U.S. on May 6, Griner’s fellow teammates and the league as a whole have honored her absence with a floor decal of her initials and jersey number (no. 42) along the sideline of all 12 WNBA courts. Mercury players and staff also met with State Department officials on a recent trip to Washington, D.C., according to ABC News.

“We’re here to do whatever we can to amplify and keep BG at the forefront, which is more important than any basketball game and anything else that’s going on in our lives,” Mercury star and longtime teammate Diana Taurasi said in a statement after the meetings. “We want BG to come home as soon as possible, it’s number one on our list.”

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