EXPLAINER: WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia | Sports activities

As WNBA star and two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner approaches the three-month mark of her detention in Russia, she has no clear prospect of launch.

The Phoenix Mercury All-Star heart might as early as Friday face a Moscow court docket listening to, which is prone to lengthen her pre-trial detention. It doesn’t assist that she was arrested in Moscow, on the lowest level of U.S.-Russian relations in many years.

Here is a take a look at Griner’s predicament, and the efforts to safe her launch.


Griner was detained Feb. 17 and a listening to in a Russian court docket may come as early as Friday, or anytime earlier than May 19 when her detention interval is scheduled to finish. The court docket will probably lengthen her pre-trial detention. No trial date has been set.

May 19 is the day Griner’s detention interval is scheduled to finish, not a court docket or trial date. Courts in Russia routinely lengthen pre-trial detention, and suspects can spend years in jail awaiting trial.

The Biden administration says Griner, 31, is being wrongfully detained. The WNBA and U.S. officers have labored towards her launch, with out seen progress.

Griner was detained on the Moscow airport after vape cartridges containing oil derived from hashish have been allegedly present in her baggage, which may carry a most penalty of 10 years in jail.


The Russians have described Griner’s case as a prison offense with out making any political associations.

But it comes amid Moscow’s struggle in Ukraine that has introduced U.S.-Russian relations to the bottom degree because the Cold War.

Despite the pressure, Russia and the United States carried out an surprising prisoner trade final month — buying and selling ex-marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. While the U.S. doesn’t usually embrace such exchanges, it made the deal partially as a result of Yaroshenko had already served an extended portion of his jail sentence.

The Russians might contemplate Griner a possible a part of one other such trade.


The State Department final week mentioned it now regards Griner as wrongfully detained, a change in classification that means the U.S. authorities can be extra lively in attempting to safe her launch even whereas the authorized case performs out. The standing change locations her case below the purview of the division’s Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, which is chargeable for negotiating for the discharge of hostages and Americans thought of wrongfully detained.

Also engaged on the case now could be a middle led by Bill Richardson, the previous U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who helped the discharge of a number of hostages and detainees, together with Reed.

It’s not fully clear why the U.S. authorities, which for weeks had been extra circumspect in its strategy, reclassified Griner as a wrongful detainee. But below federal legislation, there are a variety of things that go into such a characterization, together with if the detention relies on being an American or if the detainee has been denied due course of

U.S. State Dept. spokesman Ned Price has confirmed that U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan had a gathering with Russian counterparts however wouldn’t say whether or not Griner was mentioned or discuss any additional about her case.


Griner can be paid her full wage of practically $228,000 though she is being detained.

The WNBA is also acknowledging Griner’s absence with a decal on the house flooring of all 12 groups that has her initials and No. 42. The WNBA accepted giving the Mercury each roster and wage cap reduction to allow them to carry a substitute participant till Griner returns residence. Phoenix wore shirts earlier than their opening sport final week saying “We are BG”.

The WNBA and Mercury have been at first reticent to say something in concern of exacerbating Griner’s scenario, however have turn out to be extra vocal as her detention continues. Several gamers have spoken out, together with Seattle Storm ahead Breanna Stewart who has tweeted every day about Griner.

“BG is on my mind every day,” Stewart lately mentioned. “You have these moments where you just can’t believe that she’s still in Russia, wrongfully detained. Hoping we get her home. The WNBA isn’t the WNBA without BG.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials will not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.

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