Brittney Griner warms up before the Women’s Basketball finals at the Tokyo Olympic Games on August 8, 2021. Griner was expected to appear in a Russian court on Monday. File Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo
June 27 (UPI) — WNBA star Brittney Griner appeared briefly during a closed-door preliminary hearing with a new appearance set for July 1 but no other movement in her case since being initially detained on Feb. 17.
Griner, an Olympic gold medal-winning basketball player and WNBA champion, appeared in the Russian court in suburban Moscow in handcuffs and left without comment. ABC News said her Russian attorney declined to comment as well.
Russian authorities took Griner into custody at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Russia on Feb. 17, just days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after she was accused of carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil, which is illegal in Russia.
The U.S. State Department has since ruled that Griner is being “wrongfully detained,” a designation that allows it to advocate more forcefully on her behalf.
“I just keep hearing that, you know, he has the power,” Cherelle Griner said. “She’s a political pawn. So, if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it.”
Griner had been playing professionally in Russia at the time of her arrest. The State Department said last month it is continuing its efforts on Griner’s behalf and other Americans detained in Russia.
“What we’ve said and will continue to say from here is that we have no other priority than the safety and security of the United States citizens who are overseas, and we continue to insist that the government of Russia allow for consistent and timely consular access to all U.S. citizens — U.S. citizen detainees in Russia, including those in pretrial detention — in compliance with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and bilateral consular convention with the United States,” Jalina Porter, principal deputy spokesperson with the State Department, said in May about Griner and other Americans detained by Russia.
“Our requests for access are consistently delayed or denied, and we will continue to press for fair and transparent treatment for all U.S. citizen detainees in Russia.”