March 17, 2022
Russian state news agency reports detention of Brittney Griner extended until May 19
New date runs beyond start of WNBA season
According to the Russian state news agency TASS, Brittney Griner’s detention over an investigation concerning drug possession has been extended until May 19.
The report included brief video, said to be of Griner at her court appearance.
Griner was arrested on February 17, according to U.S. representative Colin Allred (D-TX), and has been held since, with the United States unable to even gain consular access, or the right of a representative from this country to visit Griner.
While this is clearly the least of the enormous concerns about Griner’s health and safety, May 19 falls beyond the start of the WNBA season. The return of Griner to U.S. soil in time for the start of that campaign on May 6 was listed by WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert as a goal for the league in an interview this week. The WNBA’s powers in this case are, of course, extremely limited.
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“Anyone who meets Brittney, the first thing you walk away with is how kind she is,” Engelbert told People.com. “She’s just very low key and very humble. … She’s given strong support for the LGBTQ+ community, is an advocate [for social justice]. … No matter who you talk to, if they know Brittney, you get that kind of story about how iconic she is and what a role model she is, both on and off the court.”
It is worth noting that while the Russian authorities have claimed Griner possessed illegal drugs, planting evidence is a common tactic of authoritarian regimes, particularly Russia.
As Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian explained his detention in Iran, “I know from my own case that the supposed charges against me were not based in anything like reality, and they were used to perpetuate a narrative about why I was being held.”