Brittney Griner’s pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month, The Associated Press reports.
Griner’s lawyer, Alexander Boikov, shared the news following a brief court appearance by the American basketball player on Friday, which comes ahead of her trial on drug possession charges. According to Boikov, the relatively short length of the extension suggests that the case will soon go to trial.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays for the Phoenix Mercury appeared for the brief hearing handcuffed, with her head bowed and wearing an orange hoodie. She did not express “any complaints about the detention conditions,” her attorney told the Associated Press.
The 31-year-old athlete has been in custody for nearly three months. In February, she was detained at a Moscow airport after vape cartridges containing cannabis oil were allegedly found in her luggage. Griner faces drug smuggling charges that could result in up to ten years in prison.
U.S. officials have classified Griner as “wrongfully detained” and have been working to negotiate her release.
Following the announcement of the extension, Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, tweeted that the basketball star’s team expects the government to “use all options available to immediately and safely bring Griner home.”
The WNBA also continues to show its support of Griner. On May 3, the league announced that it would feature Griner’s initials and jersey number (No. 42) on the sideline of all WNBA courts this season. The league also granted the Phoenix Mercury roster and salary cap relief to have a replacement player. Griner will continue to be paid her full salary.
“As we begin the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “We continue to work on bringing Brittney home and are appreciative of the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily challenging time.”
Boikov told NPR that the athlete’s legal team has been in touch regularly with U.S. officials. “Everything they can do, they’re doing,” he said.
On the same day as Griner’s most recent court appearance on May 13, Russian media speculated about a potential prisoner swap between Moscow and Washington involving Griner.