Griner will remain in custody for another 18 days, at least through July 2. A representative of the court in Khimki, which is in the Moscow region, said the extension was granted at “the request of the investigation.”
Griner’s pre-trial detention was previously delayed by a month back in May; at the time, her lawyer in Russia, Alexander Boykov, said he believed the WNBA star’s case would head to trial soon. Griner also made a brief appearance in a Russian court on May 13.
Reps for Griner did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment on the latest detention extension.
Griner has been detained in Russia for over three months now. She was arrested in February after security at a Moscow-area airport allegedly found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her carry-on bag as she tried to enter the country. She was charged with “large-scale transportation of drugs” and could face up to 10 years in prison.
Last month, the U.S. government officially announced that it considered Griner “wrongfully detained” in Russia. The decision signaled that the U.S. would take a more active role in trying to negotiate and secure her release rather than letting Griner go through the Russian criminal justice system. To that end, former New Mexico governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, reportedly agreed to work on Griner’s case as well. Richardson has worked extensively as a hostage and prisoner negotiator, recently working to secure the release of Trevor Reed, a former Marine arrested in Russia in 2019 and sentenced to nine years in prison.
The re-classification of Griner’s case also changed the public-facing strategy of the campaign to help her. Previously, the U.S. government had advised Griner’s family, team, and supporters to keep a low profile, lest the media attention allows Russian President Vladimir Putin to turn Griner into an even bigger bargaining chip at a moment when relations between the U.S. and Russia are already heavily strained over the war in Ukraine. Since then, Griner’s family and supporters have been able to speak more openly about her case, with LeBron James lending his voice to her cause earlier this month.
In a letter he shared on social media, James said Russia was using Griner as a “political pawn,” that she was experiencing “inhumane conditions,” and had been “denied communications with her family and loved ones.” He continued, “It is imperative that the U.S. Government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home.”