Olympian & WNBA athlete Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for possessing vape cartridges containing hashish oil. Her legal team had asked Russian courts for release on house arrest but was denied.

Brittney Griner

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House Arrest Request Denied

The hearing in Moscow that happened Thursday had been requested by Griner’s legal team, TMZ Sports reported. Her legal team requested the court release of Brittney Griner on house arrest, but was firmly denied.  The Olympian will be further detained in a cell for 30 days until her next hearing, scheduled for May 19th. 

Russian investigators will set a trial date to bring the matter to court after reviewing the facts of the case. If they need more time, they’ll request an extension in May.

Griner’s legal team was able to visit her on several occasions at the location where she’s being held and shared that Griner is “OK,” but clearly wants to return home as soon as possible.

Democrat of Montana, Congresswoman Cori Bush, tweeted out two days ago, “We cannot ignore the fact that if Brittney Griner wasn’t a Black woman, it would be plastered across the news that she is being held as a political prisoner in Russia.  Free Brittney Griner.”

Griner faced criticism from users online who stated Griner’s family requested privacy in the case, therefore muting the public outcry.  ESPN reporter T.J. Quinn published a thirteen tweet long thread about what is known on Griner, while also highlighting why it was important to keep her situation low-profile, writing, “Until yesterday, the US govt and PCTG had been deliberately low-key about her confinement. The thinking is that she’s better off handling her case in the Russian legal system, and if there is too much attention it makes her more valuable as a political chit.”

Brittney Griner Detained With Two Drug Offenders

With Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia on drug charges being extended until May 19th, Griner will have spent more than three months in custody with no indication on her release date.

The TASS report cited the Khimki Court of the Moscow region for the update on Griner’s status. Ekaterina Kalugina, a human rights activist from Russia’s Public Monitoring Commission, informed TASS that Griner is sharing a cell with two other women also charged with first-time, drug-related offenses.

Former US First Lady & Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is one of the few high-ranking politicians to speak out on her behalf, sharing a tweet recently that simply said, “Free Brittney.”

Who is Brittney Griner?

Brittney Griner is a 31-year-old African-American professional basketball player for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury team. She played college basketball for the Baylor Lady in Waco, Texas and was the only NCAA player to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots. In 2012, she was named the AP Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. 

Griner played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg for several years during the American league’s offseason – a common practice for US athletes. 

Griner Detained For Alleged Hashish Possession

On Saturday, March 5th, Russian officials announced they had detained an American basketball player and Olympic gold medalist, but did not identify the athlete as Griner.  According to Russia’s Interfax News Agency, “‘As a US citizen was passing through the green channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York, a working dog from the Sheremetyevo Customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage.’”

Russian Federal Customs Service did not release the player’s name, but the Russian news agency TASS, who cited a law enforcement source, identified the player as Brittney Griner.  Russian Federal Customs Service said officials had detained the player after finding vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow.  A video was released of a traveler going through airport security, appearing to be Griner.

Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas says he believes Griner is being used as a “political pawn.”

Support Pours In

Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner has posted to social media and shared that she is devastated over Brittney’s detainment in Russia.  Griner says their family is in pain and that she misses Brittney’s voice, indicating that the Olympian has had little or no contact with family since being detained.

Griner is also getting support from ex-wife, Glory B. Johnson, has sent prayers for Brittney in her own Instagram post as well as TV host and Navy and Marine Corps veteran Montel Williams, who has said he believes she has been “wrongfully detained.”