Britney Greiner’s lawyer said Friday that the WNBA star’s pretrial detention in Russia has been extended by one month.
Alexander Boykov told The Associated Press that he believes the relatively short extension of detention indicates that the case will soon be brought to trial. Greiner has been in custody for nearly three months.
She appeared to her short skinned hands tied, braided covered in a red hood and her face low.
“We have not received any complaints from our clients about the conditions of detention,” Boykov said.
Grenier, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was arrested at Moscow airport after e-cigarette cartridges containing cannabis-derived oil, which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, were found in her luggage.
The Biden administration says Greiner, 31, He is being unjustly detained. WNBA and US officials worked for her release, without much progress.
The Russians described Grenier’s case as a criminal offense without making any political connections.
But it comes amid Moscow’s war in Ukraine that has pushed US-Russian relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.
Despite the tension, Russia and the United States staged an unexpected prisoner swap last month — swapping ex-Marine Trevor Reed with Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. Usually not adopting such exchanges, the deal was concluded in part because Yaroshenko had already served a long part of his prison sentence.
The Russians might consider Greiner a potential part of another such exchange.
The State Department said last week that it now considers Greiner to be unjustly detained, a designation change that indicates the US government will be more active in trying to secure her release even while the legal case is pending. The change of status places her case under the oversight of the department’s special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, responsible for negotiating the release of hostages and Americans considered unjustly held.
Also working on the case is now a center led by Bill Richardson, the former US ambassador to the United Nations who helped secure the release of several hostages and detainees, including Reid.
It is not entirely clear why the US government, which has been more cautious in its approach for weeks, reclassified Greiner as an unlawful detainee. But under federal law, a number of factors go into such a characterization, including whether the detention was based on being American and whether the detainee was denied due process.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed that US Ambassador John Sullivan had a meeting with his Russian counterparts but did not say whether Greener had been discussed or talked about further about her case.