Brittney Griner's detention in Russia extended as team fights for release

Representatives from WNBA's Phoenix Mercury consulting with US State Department on basketball player's status

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A court has extended the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner in Russia through at least July 2, Russian state news agency Tass reported on Tuesday.

This was the latest extension handed down by Russia, where Griner was arrested in February.

While at an airport near Moscow, she was reportedly found to have been illegally transporting cartridges of hashish oil, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

US officials have classified her arrest as “wrongful detainment”.

As such, it is being overseen by the office of the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens.

On Monday, officials from the State Department and Mr Carstens's office met members of the Phoenix Mercury while they were in town to play the Washington Mystics.

Sheila Jackson Lee and Greg Stanton, US representatives from Texas and Arizona, respectively, were also present. Griner is from Houston, Texas.

“We are on day 116 since [Griner] has been wrongfully detained,” Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard said on Twitter.

“It was great to hear from the State Department that we should continue to amplify that message and that we should continue to press all those who have any influence or power to help bring [her] home.

“She's our teammate, she's an American and we want her back home.”

Griner was arrested while on her way back to the US for the start of a training camp with the Mercury. She has played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia during her offseason for six years.

She and many other WNBA players participate in foreign leagues for financial reasons.

Griner has won two Olympic gold medals, an NCAA title and a WNBA championship.

Updated: June 14, 2022, 6:32 PM