ESPN: WNBA Star Brittney Griner's Detention Extended 30 Days and Denied House Arrest

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 13, 2022

FILE - Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner pauses on the court during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm, Sept. 3, 2019, in Phoenix. Griner is easily the most prominent American citizen known to be jailed by a foreign government. Yet as a crucial hearing approaches next month, the case against her remains shrouded in mystery, with little clarity from the Russian prosecutors. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File

WNBA superstar Brittney Griner reportedly had her detention extended 30 days by a Russian court on Friday.

ESPN's TJ Quinn said Griner was also denied house arrest during the hearing.

Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner's agent, said in a statement that she expects the White House to "use all options available" to get the WNBA star home safely:

T.J. Quinn @TJQuinnESPN

Statement from Brittney Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas: <a href="https://t.co/DGbUQKHPsC">pic.twitter.com/DGbUQKHPsC</a>

She's been held by Russian authorities on drug charges since February when officials at a Moscow airport allegedly found vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Alexander Boikov, Griner's lawyer in Russia, told the Associated Press the short extension of the detention suggested the case could go to trial soon.

Last week, the U.S. State Department altered Griner's status to "wrongfully detained by the Russian government." It signaled a change to a more aggressive attempt to secure her release, with a department spokesperson saying it would "undertake efforts to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner."

"The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is among the highest priorities of the U.S. Government," a spokesperson told Minyvonne Burke and Abigail Williams of NBC News.

Griner's detention came amid heightened tensions between the United States and the European country after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military attack on Ukraine, an invasion that has now lasted over two months.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced in early May the league would honor Griner with her initials and No. 42 placed on every court.

"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," Engelbert said. "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."

Griner is a member of the Phoenix Mercury and has played for the Russian club UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014. Several WNBA players compete overseas during the offseason for supplemental income.

Members of the Mercury organization continued to express concern about the 31-year-old's status as they prepared for the new season.

"We've just got to keep praying for her," teammate Sophie Cunningham told reporters. "We hope she's well. That's all we know, you guys know as much as we do. No one wants to be in her situation. We miss her like crazy."

Head coach Vanessa Nygaard added: "I definitely wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, worrying about BG."

Griner is a seven-time All-Star and two-time WNBA scoring champion who helped lead the Mercury to a championship in 2014.