Two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since her arrest in February. For the third time, her pretrial detention has been extended. Her detention was supposed to end in March, then June 18, and now July 2.
“Our position for some time on this has been very clear: Brittney Griner should not be detained. She should not be detained for a single day longer,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday.
Griner was detained in a Moscow airport for possession of cannabis-derived oils, which can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Her agent released a statement via Twitter: “Her detention is inhumane and unacceptable. She has not had a single phone call in her 117 days of wrongful detention…and we call on [President Biden] and [Vice President Kamala Harris] to act with urgency and do whatever it takes to bring Brittney home immediately.”
In early May, Griner was classified as “wrongfully detained” by the US government.
“Hostage diplomacy cases rely on the pretense of law. The Russians won’t ever say ‘we’re holding Brittney Griner hostage,’ but by repeatedly postponing her trial, they’re communicating their intentions,” Danielle Gilbert, assistant professor of military and strategic studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy told ESPN. “Dragging out her detention, missing court deadlines — these are key indicators that we should question the legitimacy of her arrest, precisely why the U.S. classified it as a wrongful detention.”
A petition to bring Griner home has been signed by over 260,000 people at the time of print. This petition was created by the Women’s National Basketball Player’s Association (WNBPA) along with activist Tamryn Spruill.
The whole country anxiously awaits Griner’s return, including her wife and teammates. Her head coach said in a statement to CNN, “”We are on Day  since BG has been wrongfully detained. She’s our teammate, she’s an American and we want her back home.”