Her pre-trial detention in Russia of WNBA star Britney Greener was extended by one month on Friday, her lawyer said.
Alexander Boykov told the Associated Press that he believes the relatively short extension shows that Griner’s case will be tried soon. The 31-year-old American basketball player has been in custody for nearly three months.
Greener, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays for Phoenix Mercury, was detained at Moscow’s airport in February after allegedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She faces charges of drug smuggling, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Greener appeared for a brief hearing in a Moscow court handcuffed, wearing an orange hood and holding his face down. She did not express “any complaints about the conditions of detention,” Boykov said.
The Biden administration says Greener was detained illegally. WNBA and US officials have worked to release her, with no visible progress.
“Today’s news about Britney Greener was not unexpected and the WNBA continues to work with the US government to bring BG back home safely and as soon as possible,” the basketball league said in a statement.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said diplomats at the US Embassy in Moscow spoke to Greens on Friday and said she was “doing as well as might be expected in the circumstances.”
Russian officials have described the Griner case as a crime without creating political associations. But Moscow’s war in Ukraine brought US-Russian relations to their lowest level since the Cold War.
Despite tensions, Russia and the United States carried out an unexpected prisoner exchange last month, exchanging former Marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
Although the United States does not usually accept such exchanges, they struck the deal in part because Yaroshenko had already served a long part of his sentence.
The Russians may think of Griner as someone who could take part in another similar exchange.
Last week, the State Department said it now considered Greens illegally detained, a change in classification that suggests the U.S. government will be more active in trying to secure her release, even as the trial progresses.
The change of status puts her case under the jurisdiction of the special presidential envoy of the Hostages Department, which is responsible for negotiations on the release of hostages and Americans considered illegally detained.
A center run by Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, is also working to help secure the release of many hostages and detainees, including Reed.
It is not entirely clear why the US government, which has been more cautious in its approach for weeks, reclassifies Greener as illegally detained. But under federal law, there are a number of factors that fall into this trait, including whether detention is based on being American or if the detainee has been denied due process.
In addition to Greener, another American considered unjustly detained in Russia is Paul Whelan, Michigan’s chief corporate security officer. Whelan was arrested in December 2018 while visiting a friend’s wedding and was later sentenced to 16 years in prison on espionage charges that his family said were false.
Detention of WNBA Star Brittney Griner in Moscow extended by 1 month – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link Detention of WNBA Star Brittney Griner in Moscow extended by 1 month – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel