MOSCOW, Russia — The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner said Friday her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month.
Griner’s lawyer, Alexander Boikov, told The Associated Press he believed the relatively short extension of the detention indicated the case would come to trial soon.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Video is from a related report on Griner's detention.
She has been in detention for nearly three months.
She appeared for the brief hearing handcuffed, her dreadlocks covered in a red hoodie and her face held low.
Boykov said "We did not receive any complaints about the detention conditions from our client.”
Griner, 31, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained at the Moscow airport back in February after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage. If convicted, she could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The Biden administration says the Houston native who played college ball at Baylor is being wrongfully detained. The WNBA and U.S. officials have worked toward her release without visible progress.
The U.S. State Department has been “doing everything we can to support Brittney Griner to support her family, and to work with them to do everything we can, to see that she is treated appropriately and to seek her release,” spokesman Ned Price said last week. He cited privacy considerations in not giving out more details.
Ekaterina Kalugina of the regional Public Monitoring Commission, a state-backed panel in Russia that monitors prisoners’ conditions, said recently that Griner was sharing a cell with two other female detainees accused of narcotics offenses.
Griner’s cellmates spoke English and were helping her to communicate with staff at the pre-trial detention facility and to obtain books, Kalugina said.
“The only objective problem has turned out to be the basketball player’s height,” Tass quoted Kalugina as saying of the 6-foot-9 Griner. “The beds in the cell are clearly intended for a person of lesser height.”
The case of the 31-year-old Griner, one of the most recognizable players in women's basketball, comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Also working on the case now is a center led by Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who helped the release of multiple hostages and detainees, including Trevor Reed.
Griner had one of her best seasons last year — the league's second-leading scorer and sixth in rebounds. She helped the Mercury reach the WNBA Finals, where they lost to the Chicago Sky.
Griner has won two Olympic gold medals with the U.S., a WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury and a national championship at Baylor. She is a seven-time All-Star. The WNBA season opens May 6.
She was one of a dozen WNBA players who played in Russia or Ukraine this past season. All except Griner have left since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Griner has played in Russia for the last seven years in the winter, earning over $1 million per season — more than quadruple her WNBA salary. She last played for her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg on Jan. 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments. She was arrested in Moscow upon returning to Russia.
Check back for updates on this developing story.