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    Russia extends Brittney Griner's detention until at least July 2 : NPR

    WNBA star Brittney Griner will remain in Russian custody through at least July 2, Russian state media reported. The U.S. says she is being wrongfully detained.

    World

    Russia extends Brittney Griner's detention until at least July 2

    June 14, 20224:12 PM ET

    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, pictured in 2021, has been detained in Russia since February.

    Rick Scuteri/AP

    MOSCOW — WNBA star Brittney Griner will remain in Russian custody through at least July 2, Russian state-run news agency Tass reported Tuesday.

    The 31-year-old American basketball player has been held in Russia since February when she was detained at a Moscow airport after authorities there claimed she was carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The U.S. Department of State last month reclassified her as wrongfully detained.

    The Khimki district court of the Moscow region extended Griner's detention for a third time, according to the Tass report, which also cited a top Russian diplomat as saying that Moscow will not consider including Griner in a detainee swap "until a court investigation into her case is completed."

    Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, according to Tass, was responding to U.S. media reports that the Biden administration had offered to exchange convicted arms trader Viktor Bout for Griner. Ryabkov gave no timeline for the proceedings in the player's case.

    Griner's supporters continue to advocate for her release, with some raising concerns that Moscow might use her as a bargaining chip amid tensions over the war in Ukraine.

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    SPORTS

    LeBron James and the NBA have not forgotten Brittney Griner

    Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays in Russia during the WNBA offseason, was accused of "smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance," an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison in Russia.

    The Houston native plays for the Phoenix Mercury.

    State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Tuesday that it was his understanding that department officials learned of the extension in her detention only through Tass, which he said was problematic.

    NATIONAL SECURITY

    Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed freed from Russia in prisoner swap

    "This case is problematic from top to bottom," he 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."

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    Brittney Griner detainment, explained: Why Russia is holding Phoenix Mercury star in custody and how WNBA has reacted

    Griner has reportedly been detained in Russia after the Russian Federal Customs Service claimed it found hashish oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow.

    NBA WNBA

    Brittney Griner detainment, explained: Why Russia is holding Phoenix Mercury star in custody and how WNBA has reacted

    Jordan Greer 20 hours ago • 8 min read

    (Getty Images)

    Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner remains detained in Russia after the Russian Federal Customs Service claimed it found hashish oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow, as reported by The New York Times and Russian News agency TASS.

    The customs service didn't release a name or specify the date of detainment in its statement, as officials only said they detained an American basketball player who had won two gold medals with the U.S. team. TASS later identified the player as Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star who won gold medals in 2016 and 2021.

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    Original news of Griner's detainment came amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which led to many WNBA players leaving those countries.

    Here are the latest details on the evolving situation.

    Why was Brittney Griner detained in Russia?

    Griner, who has played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League during the WNBA offseason, was detained after customs service officials said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport. The customs service also released a video of an individual at the airport who appears to be Griner going through security.

    Russian state TV showed a photo of Griner as part of a segment that aired on March 5. The photo was reportedly taken at a Russian police station.

    A criminal case has been opened into the "large-scale transportation of drugs, which can carry a sentence of up to 10 years behind bars in Russia," according to The New York Times.

    What did the WNBA and Phoenix Mercury say about Brittney Griner's detainment?

    The WNBA announced on May 3 that it will feature Griner's initials and jersey number (No. 42) on the sideline of all WNBA courts this season. The league also granted the Mercury roster and salary cap relief so they can carry a replacement player. Griner will continue to be paid her full salary.

    "As we begin the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community," WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. "We continue to work on bringing Brittney home and are appreciative of the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily challenging time."

    The WNBA's announcement on May 3 is the latest in a series of public statements released since the original reporting of her detainment earlier this spring.

    WNBA statement (March 5)

    "Brittney Griner has the WNBA's full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States."

    Phoenix Mercury statement (March 5)

    "We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia. We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home."

    WNBPA statement (March 5)

    "We are aware of the situation in Russia concerning one of our members, Brittney Griner. Our utmost concern is BG's safety and well-being. On behalf of The 144, we send our love and support. We will continue to closely monitor and look forward to her return to the U.S."

    USA Basketball statement (March 5)

    "USA Basketball is aware of and closely monitoring the legal situation facing Brittney Griner in Russia. Brittney has always handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball and her safety and well-being are our primary concerns."

    Are there any other WNBA players in Russia?

    A league spokesperson told The New York Times on March 5 that all WNBA players other than Griner were out of Russia and Ukraine.

    Why do WNBA players compete in Russia?

    Many WNBA players, including the league's biggest stars, have gone overseas during the offseason because international leagues offer much higher salaries than the WNBA.

    Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart, who has also played for UMMC Ekaterinburg, earns approximately $1.5 million per season overseas compared to a WNBA supermax salary of $228,094. After signing a one-year deal with the Storm, Stewart expressed her concerns about recent changes to the collective bargaining agreement that push players to prioritize the WNBA over other leagues.

    "Prioritization is, like, the biggest topic of conversation in the WNBA for me, especially in the next couple of years," Stewart said in February. "To be able to play overseas at UMMC Ekaterinburg, where basketball is very valued, we're treated really well and able to make a lot of money, it's just hard for me. With the prioritization, you're cutting off one of my sources of income and not substituting it.

    "That's something that needs to be kind of figured out. I don't have a great answer for what's going to happen. But I think it's going to affect a lot more players in the WNBA than people think right now."

    Source : www.sportingnews.com

    Brittney Griner's detention in Russia extended through at least July 2, Russian state news reports

    US basketball star Brittney Griner -- who has been held in Russia since February on accusations of drug smuggling -- will remain in Russian custody through at least July 2, after a Russian court extended her detention, Russian state news agency TASS reported Tuesday.

    SPORT

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    Brittney Griner's detention in Russia extended through at least July 2, Russian state news reports

    By Karen Smith and Dakin Andone, CNN

    Updated 0438 GMT (1238 HKT) June 15, 2022

    The US classifies Brittney Griner as wrongfully detained in Russia.

    (CNN)US basketball star Brittney Griner -- who has been held in Russia since February on accusations of drug smuggling -- will remain in Russian custody through at least July 2, after a Russian court extended her detention, Russian state news agency TASS reported Tuesday.

    Griner, 31, has been officially classified as "wrongfully detained," a US State Department official told CNN in May.

    Brittney Griner latest: Phoenix Mercury get State Dept. briefing and Hall of Famer calls for release

    Supporters, including Griner's family and the WNBA, have vigorously advocated for her release, with some expressing concerns Russia would use Griner as a political pawn amid tensions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February, when Russian authorities claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage and accused her of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and star of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury plays in Russia during that league's offseason.

    Griner's detention has been extended repeatedly. A Russian court announced in March it had extended her pretrial detention until mid-May. Last month, Griner's detention was extended once again until June 18, TASS reported at the time.

    "Our position for some time on this has been very clear: Brittney Griner should not be detained. She should not be detained for a single day longer," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday.

    The State Department learned of the news through Russian state media reports, Price said. The US last had consular access to Griner last month, he told reporters.

    close dialog

    Griner's case is being handled by the office of the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, a State Department official confirmed to CNN last month. The office leads the government's diplomatic efforts to secure the release of Americans wrongfully detained abroad and played a major role in securing the release of US citizen Trevor Reed in a late April prisoner swap with Russia.

    In a statement late Tuesday, Griner's agent said it was clear the player was being used as a "political pawn."

    "Her detention is inhumane and unacceptable. She has not had a single phone call in her 117 days of wrongful detention," said Lindsay Kagawa Colas, who called on President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to "act with urgency and do whatever it takes to bring Brittney home immediately."

    Teammates 'want her back home'

    News of Griner's detention being extended comes a day after State Department officials -- including those from the hostage affairs office -- briefed her teammates on Griner's situation and efforts to bring her home.

    "We are on Day 116 since BG has been wrongfully detained," Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard said, adding, "She's our teammate, she's an American and we want her back home."

    For star guard Diana Taurasi, the State Department's announcement that Griner's detention was wrongful signaled to the team that officials are taking the situation seriously, she said Monday.

    Trevor Reed files petition against Russia with UN, asking his detention be declared unlawful, he tells CNN

    "It's something that we've all talked about intimately as a group, and now knowing the State Department at the highest level -- from US President Joe Biden to the team that is working on bringing back all Americans who are wrongfully detained -- gives us a lot of confidence that they're working on it," Taurasi said.

    "Anything that we can do on our side to amplify and to put BG first will be our No. 1 priority," she said.

    Separately, Reed -- an American veteran who spent nearly three years in a Russian prison -- has filed a petition with the United Nations declaring Russia violated international law with his detention and poor treatment, he told CNN Tuesday.

    Holding Russia accountable will "force Russia to end this practice for all Americans that they're holding there," including Griner and Paul Whelan, Reed told CNN. Whelan, a US citizen and former Marine, was detained at a Moscow hotel in 2018 and arrested on espionage charges, which he has denied.

    CNN has reached out to the UN and Russia's Permanent Mission to the UN for comment on Reed's petition.

    CNN's Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

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