Britney Griner, the American basketball star detained in Moscow on allegations of drug trafficking, will remain in custody for at least two more months, Russian media reported on Thursday.
“The court granted the request for an investigation and extended the detention period of US citizen Griner until May 19,” a spokesman for the Russian court said. Kremlin-controlled news agency TASS.
Outlet Mash also reported the news, sharing video on Telegram showing Griner, 31, walking down a hallway with two guards.
A person familiar with the matter told BuzzFeed News that Griner was doing well and meeting regularly with his Russian legal team while in custody. The investigation is still ongoing and no trial date has been set, the person said.
If the investigation is not completed by May, then the question of whether she will continue to be held pending trial will be reassessed.
A State Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, “We are closely engaged in this matter and in frequent contact with Brittney Griner’s legal team.”
The WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist’s arrest was first reported on March 5, but Rep. Colin Allred of Texas, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said she was arrested on February 17.
She was arrested after customs officers allegedly found canisters of hashish oil in her luggage at an airport outside Moscow. She faces up to 10 years in prison.
Griner is a member of the Phoenix Mercury but had played in the offseason for Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg.
TASS quoted Ekaterina Kalugina of the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission, a group that monitors prison conditions, as saying she had met with Griner.
According to Kalugina, the US consul did not meet Griner, but the State Department spokesman said that was because the Russians had not cleared it.
“We urge the Russian government to grant consular access to all American citizens detained in Russia, including those in pretrial detention, such as Brittney Griner is,” the spokesperson said.
“We have repeatedly requested consular access to these detainees and have always been denied access,” the spokesperson said. “Russia must meet its legal obligations and allow us to provide consular services to US citizens detained in Russia.”
Kalugina said Griner was calm and read books while in detention, but struggled with the size of the beds as she was nearly 7ft tall.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was limited in what he could say publicly about Griner’s case for confidentiality reasons, but that US officials would provide ‘every assistance possible’ to any American detained. abroad.
Griner’s wife, Cherelle, has asked for confidentiality as the family works to bring her home.
Officials and Griner’s family are believed to be strategically silent in order to avoid turning her into a high-profile prisoner whom the Russians will want to keep as a political pawn as the West sanctions the country for its invasion of ukraine.
Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who was detained in Iran for 18 months, told CNN he suspected that Griner, like himself, was being held on false charges.
“This is the most daring hostage-taking by any state imaginable,” Rezaian said.