Brittney Griner's arrest in Russia extended past the start of the WNBA season

By Greg Hahne
Associated Press
Published: Thursday, March 17, 2022 - 11:09am
Updated: Friday, March 18, 2022 - 8:34am

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Brittney Griner
Nicole Vasquez/Cronkite News
Brittney Griner

A Moscow court announced it has extended the arrest of WNBA star Brittney Griner until May 19, according to the Russian state news agency Tass.

Griner was detained at a Moscow airport in February after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges. They were identified as containing oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

“The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the U.S. citizen Griner until May 19,” the court said, according to Tass.

The United States embassy in Moscow did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The 31-year-old Griner, one of the most recognizable players in women’s basketball, 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.

Griner was detained in February, though the exact day is not clear. Griner may miss the May 6 start of the WNBA season. 

ASU law professor Paul Bender said Griner’s arrest is turning into a diplomatic mission rather than a legal case

“I doubt if there’s anything we can do legally,” Bender said. “I think it is diplomatic. I can’t imagine what law — international law or other law — that would apply to Russia.”

Bender said Russia may be considering whether she receives a full 10-year penalty or rethinking the case.