Speed Reads

Free Brittney

Russian court extends Brittney Griner's detention until May

Brittney Griner, the basketball star who was arrested in Russia last month on drug charges, will reportedly be detained in the country for at least another two months. 

A Moscow court on Thursday granted a request to extend Griner's detention until May 19 after she was arrested at the airport for allegedly possessing cannabis vape cartridges, CNN reports, citing the Russian news agency TASS. 

Griner was reportedly arrested on Feb. 17, though her detention was first reported almost three weeks later, after her luggage was found to allegedly contain cartridges with "liquid with hashish oil," according to Reuters. She appeared in a Russian court on Thursday and pleaded not guilty, TMZ reports. Griner had previously not been seen publicly outside of one mugshot released by Russian state media. 

Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), a former athlete who like Griner played with Baylor University, has been working to secure her release, and he recently expressed concern that the U.S. Embassy has been denied consular access to her. 

"The fact we've requested consular access and it has not been granted is very unusual and extremely concerning," Allred told The Washington Post, adding, "We've seen trumped up charges against other Americans ... So if it were to occur, it wouldn't be the first time in history." 

Griner's detention, which comes amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, has sparked widespread outcry and calls for her to be released. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported calls to "free Brittney," while Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) tweeted, "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."