American basketball star Brittney Griner, who is being held in Moscow on drug-trafficking charges, will remain in custody for at least two months, Russian media reported Thursday.
“The court has granted the request for an investigation and extended the detention period of US citizen Griner until May 19,” a Russian court spokesman told the Kremlin-controlled press agency TASS.
The outlet Mash News reported a video shared on Telegram showing Griner, 31, walking down a hallway with two guards.
A person close to the matter told BuzzFeed News Greiner is OK and has been meeting regularly with his Russian legal team while in custody. The investigation is still ongoing and a hearing date has not been set, the person said.
If the investigation is not completed by May, she will be re-evaluated later as to whether she will be continued in custody pending trial.
A State Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, “We are closely involved in this case and are in frequent contact with Brittney Greiner’s legal team.”
The arrest of the WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist was first reported on March 5, but Rep. Colin Allred of Texas, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said she was arrested on February 17.
She was arrested after customs officials found cartridges of hashish oil in her luggage at an airport outside Moscow. She could be jailed for 10 years.
Griner is a member of the Phoenix Mercury but played in the off-season for Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Ekaterina Kalugina with Moscow’s Public Monitoring Commission, a group that monitors prison conditions, said she met with Griner, TASS said.
According to Kalugina, the US consul has not met with Griner, but a State Department spokesman said this was because the Russians did not allow it.
“We urge the Russian government to provide consular access to all US citizens detained in Russia, including those in pre-trial detention like Brittney Greiner,” the spokesperson said.
“We have repeatedly asked for consular access to these detainees and have been consistently denied access,” the spokesman said. “Russia must abide by its legal obligations and allow us to provide consular services to US citizens detained in Russia.”
Kalugina said Greiner was quiet and read books while in custody, but struggled with the size of the beds because he is about 7 feet tall.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has limited what he can say publicly about Griner’s case due to privacy considerations, but said US officials would provide “all possible assistance” to any American detained abroad.
Greiner’s wife, Cherelle, has asked for privacy as the family works to bring him home.
Officials and Griner’s family are believed to have remained strategically silent to avoid making a high-profile prisoner the Russians want to keep as a political pawn as the West embargoes the country over its invasion of Ukraine.
Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who was detained in Iran for 18 months, told CNN that he suspected that Griner was being held on trumped-up charges.
“This is the most daring hostage taking from a state imaginable,” Rezaian said.