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Brittney Griner’s Sentence Has Been Extended Again, And Experts Predict That Her Hearing Will Never Take Place

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The detention of American basketball player Brittney Griner in Russia has been extended once more.

The WNBA legend’s detention has been officially prolonged until at least July 2, according to Russian state media agency TASS. The Russian government has extended her pre-trial detention for the second time in less than a month, and one legal expert believes the July 2 deadline “is as fictional as any previous date.”

“Anyone still believing Russia’s word in the Griner case is being dumb,” Aron Solomon, Esquire Digital’s Chief Legal Analyst, told Insider. “This so-called ‘hearing’ will never take place.”

“She’ll either be judged guilty in secret and transported to a prison camp, or she’ll be part of a prisoner swap,” he continued.

Griner, a 6-foot-9 center for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained in Russia on February 17 after customs authorities at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport said they discovered hashish oil-filled vape cartridges in her luggage. Solomon previously told Insider that the two-time Olympic gold medalist “will not be granted a fair and equitable court process.” She faces up to ten years in jail for her accusations.

In the days after her detention, the Biden administration covertly pushed to secure her release and safe return to the United States, according to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, who told Insider that it was part of an organizational effort to “speak less and push more privately.” However, the US took a different approach in early May, officially designating Griner as “wrongfully detained” — a move that sends a “strong signal” that the US government “does not believe there is a legitimate case against her,” according to one expert who has previously navigated several hostage situations.

Friends, relatives, teammates, and supporters of the seven-time All-Star were free to openly fight for her return to the United States because to the “wrongfully detained” status.

Cherelle Griner, Griner’s wife, has made multiple TV appearances in recent weeks in an attempt to raise awareness about the issue.

Griner’s Mercury colleagues met with US State Department officials, as well as Congressman Greg Stanton of Arizona and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, during a recent trip to Washington, DC, to discuss the star’s case. According to Phoenix head coach Vanessa Nygaard, all parties encouraged the team to “continue to press all those who have any influence or power to help bring BG home.”

President Joe Biden and his administration are widely believed to be the only ones capable of securing Griner’s release. Cherelle Griner has publicly expressed regret for not speaking with Biden about her wife’s situation, but has stated that she is eager to do so in order to help bring “my person back.”

Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, called on Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to “act with urgency and do whatever it takes” to rescue the WNBA star from Russian detention after the latest extension.

The key to Griner’s release, according to Solomon, is for the US and Russia to engage in “a political detainee exchange” similar to the one that freed fellow American captive Trevor Reed in April.

Solomon previously stated that a “political detainee exchange” between the US and Russia, similar to the one that freed fellow American inmate Trevor Reed in April, is likely to be the key to Griner’s release. According to Russian official media, the superstar could be involved in a deal for Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death.”

Griner was originally detained while flying to Russia to participate for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a European powerhouse team, as she has done every winter since 2014. Griner, like about half of her WNBA teammates, travels abroad to augment her meager WNBA income.

Griner pocketed a stunning $1 million every season with UMMC Ekaterinburg, despite earning a league-maximum $227,900 annual base pay with the Mercury.

 

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