Russian court extends prison sentence for WNBA star Britney Grenier

A court in Russia has extended the pretrial detention period for WNBA star Britney Grenier.

Greiner, who was arrested in February, will remain in detention at least until July 2, according to Russian state media TASS.

The 31-year-old was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport, near Moscow, on February 17 after officials found e-cigarette cartridges with cannabis oil in her bag. It is illegal to own cannabis oil in Russia.

And her detention was extended for another 18 days “at the request of the investigation,” according to a representative from the Khimki Court of the Moscow Region, according to TASS.

Greiner has been in a Russian prison for 117 days, more than three months. She was visiting Russia in February to play Basketball For the Russian Premier League team UMMC Ekaterinburg during their suspension when she was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow for allegedly having cartridges in their bags containing cannabis oil – a substance illegal in Russia.

She was charged with “largely transporting drugs” and could face up to 10 years in prison, he said New York times.

US government Grenier’s May 3 case was classified as “unfairly detained” in Russiawhich means that the United States will work to negotiate her release.

Our position on this has been very clear for some time. Britney Greiner should not be detained. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday she should not be held for one day longer.

Price said that based on his understanding, no US diplomat was able to reach Griner amid news of the extension. He added that the State Department continues to work towards regular access to American detainees in Russia, including Greiner and Paul Whelan, who has been in a Russian prison since 2018.

Greiner’s wife, Sheryl Greiner told GMA announcer Robin Roberts Last month, the support his wife received from the league brought the WNBA star “rest” amid her arrest.

The WNBA, which began its 2022 season on May 6, honors Griner with a floor sign bearing her initials and jersey number (No. 42) on the sidelines of all 12 WNBA stadiums.

Photo: WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Britney Greiner leaves the courtroom after a hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, May 13, 2022.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Britney Greiner leaves the courtroom after a hearing, in Khimki outside Moscow, May 13, 2022.

Alexander Zemlianchenko/AFP, file

“Things like that are important, like, have hope,” Sheryl Greiner told Roberts. “It makes her know she hasn’t forgotten.”

“I know those little moments give her a kind of hope,” she added.

The 6-foot-9 center won an NCAA title at Baylor in 2012; WNBA title with Phoenix, her current team, in 2014; And gold medals with the US women’s team at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began one week after Grenier’s arrest on February 17. Some officials worry that Americans imprisoned in Russia could be used as leverage in the ongoing conflict.

Sheryl Greiner said she would like to speak with President Joe Biden.

“I still hear that, you know, he has the power,” she said. “It’s a political pawn.” “So if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, I want you to do it.”

Photo: Phoenix Mercury Center Brittney Griner during the first half of Game 2 of the WNBA Basketball Finals against Chicago Sky, October 13, 2021, in Phoenix.

Phoenix Mercury Brittney Griner center during the first half of Game 2 of the WNBA Basketball Finals against Chicago Sky, October 13, 2021, in Phoenix.

Rick Scuteri / AP, FILE

Price said last month that a US consular officer was able to meet Grenier on May 19.

Price said the officer “found her continuing to do what was expected under these very difficult circumstances.”

“But our message, once again, is clear and simple – we continue to insist that Russia allow consistent and timely consular access to all detained American citizens,” he added. “One-time visits are not enough, and we will continue to call on Moscow to fulfill its obligations under the Vienna Convention for continuous and timely access as well.”

Phoenix Mercury said Monday that the team and coaching staff met with State Department officials and Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Greg Stanton of Arizona while in Washington, DC.

“We’re here to do everything we can to amplify the BG team and keep it ahead, which is more important than any basketball game and anything else that happens in our lives,” Mercury star and longtime teammate Diana Torassi said in a statement afterward. encounters. “We want BG to come home as soon as possible, he’s number one on our list.”

Cheryl Greiner said she hasn’t spoken to Britney since her arrest right after her cellphone was confiscated, but texted in a few messages.

“Every day is important to me to be healthy, to be alert, to be alert, to make sure she comes back,” she said in an interview on Good Morning America in late May.

ABC News’s Shannon Crawford, Natalia Shumskaya, and Tanya Stokalova contributed to this report.