By Neha Malhi
WASHINGTON, DC – According to Russian state news agency TASS, WNBA Star Brittney Griner has her pre-trial detention in Russia extended by one month, heightening the tension between Russia and the U.S.
The U.S. government considered Griner’s arrest to be “wrongfully detained” by the Russian government, according to government officials in the nation’s Capital.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained for allegedly carrying oil, derived from cannabis, in vape cartridges at the Moscow airport. If convicted, Griner could serve a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Alexander Boikov, Griner’s lawyer, stated he believed the “relatively short extension of the detention indicated the case would come to trial soon.”
In Griner’s support, the State Department state it has “determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained the U.S. citizen Brittney Griner. The U.S. government will continue to undertake efforts to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner.”
Last week, Griner’s fans showed their support using social media tribute with the hashtag, “we are BG,” after Griner’s wife, Cherelle, posted a video of Griner on Instagram with the caption “It’s GAME DAY!”
Up until now, Griner has not been formally charged.
However, according to at least one news report from ESPN, “The fact that the U.S. government now considers Griner to be a wrongful detainee does not mean Russia will change its official stance on her detainment, but it does mean that the U.S. considers the legal proceedings to be irrelevant to her case.”
According to CBS News, former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson is now assisting Griner’s family to help secure her return. Up until now, all the efforts taken by WNBA and U.S. officials have not yielded any positive results toward Griner’s release.