Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner’s Russian detention has been extended to July 2. She was first detained in February under the charges of “smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance”. Vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were allegedly found in Griner’s possession. In a video posted by Reuters on June 14, U.S. Department of State spokesman Ned Price reiterated the department’s official position that Ms. Griner is being illegally detained. State Department officials met with members of the Phoenix Mercury organization on Monday.
“Knowing the State Department at the highest level, from U.S President Joe Biden to the team that is working on bringing back all Americans who are wrongfully detained, gives us a lot of confidence that they’re working on it,” [Mercury player Diana] Taurasi said.
The most recent extension is the third extension to her detainment. Her charges carry a possible 10-year jail sentence. Calls for Griner’s release populated social media after the latest announcement, including posts from basketball legend Magic Johnson and actress Kerry Washington.
It’s been 112 days since Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained in Russia. I urge and fully support the efforts of the U.S. Government and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to bring Brittney home quickly and safely. This is unacceptable!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 9, 2022
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) June 14, 2022
Penny Taylor, former Phoenix star, advocated for increased public support for Griner’s release in her WBNA Hall of Fame acceptance speech, while Steph Curry, Golden State Warrior star, told ESPN that Griner “needs to be home.”
ESPN reports that experts believe that this extension is a “procedural move that was expected and should have little effect on negotiations for her release”, however, US officials have called this “an effort to give a legitimate sheen to a negotiation tactic.”
Story Credits: Reuters, Associated Press, ESPN
Photo Credit: Phoenix Mercury website