Photo by Lorie Shaull
Photo by Lorie Shaull

Brittney Griner’s arrest has been extended until 19 May, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

In February, the American basketball star was detained after authorities found hashish oil in her luggage. If the two-time Olympic gold medalist is found guilty, she could face up to 10 years in prison.

As per TASS, a Moscow court “granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the US citizen Griner until May 19.”

Griner is currently in a detention centre in Khimki City, 14 miles northwest of downtown Moscow. According to human rights group Public Monitoring Commission, she is sharing a cell with two other prisoners.

One of the group’s members, Ekaterina Kalugina, is quoted by TASS as saying Griner has not complained about her conditions, although the beds in her cell are “clearly designed for a shorter person”.

“The only objective problem was the height of the basketball player—203 centimetres,” she said.

At the time of her detainment, Griner was an active player on the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg. 

Following news of Griner’s detainment, her agent Linsday Kagawa said they are “aware” of her situation and are “in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams and the WNBA and NBA.”

“As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental health and physical health remain our primary concern,” she told ESPN

Kalugina also revealed that, “for an unknown reason”, the US consul has not visited Griner, “although the administration of the pre-trial detention centre is ready to create all conditions for a visit.”

In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon earlier this month, US representative Colin Allred said his consular access requests to Griner have been denied for the past three weeks.

“For Brittney’s sake, we don’t want her to become part of this kind of political battle that’s going on, and we want to make sure that her rights are respected and that we are able to get access to her, and that she can get through the process and get home as quickly as possible,” he explained. 

In an additional interview with ESPN, Allred described the denial of consular access as “unusual”.

“The Russian criminal justice system is very different than ours, very opaque. We don’t have a lot of insight into where she is in that process right now, but she’s been held for three weeks now and that’s extremely concerning,” he explained. 

The United Nations refugee agency has confirmed that at least 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine due to Russia’s all-out assault on the country.

LGBTQ+ groups across Europe are working to help gay, bisexual and trans people flee, find shelter and apply for asylum. For more information on how you can help LGBTQ+ Ukrainians, click here.