MOSCOW (AP) WNBA star lawyer Britney Greener said on Friday that her previous detention in Russia had been extended by one month.
Alexander Boykov told the Associated Press that he believes that the relatively short extension of detention indicates that the case will soon be sent to court. She has been in custody for almost three months.
She appeared for a brief hearing in handcuffs, her dreadlocks were covered with a red hoodie and her face was low.
Boykov said: “We have not received any complaints about the conditions of detention from our client.”
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Greener was detained at Moscow’s airport after cartridges containing cannabis oil were allegedly found in her luggage, which could result in 10 years in prison.
The Biden administration says 31-year-old Greener is being detained illegally. Representatives of the WNBA and the United States worked on her release, but without visible progress.
The Russians described Greener’s case as a criminal offense without forming any political associations.
But this comes amid Moscow’s war in Ukraine, which has brought US-Russian relations to their lowest level since the Cold War.
Despite tensions, Russia and the United States made an unexpected prisoner exchange last month, exchanging former Marine Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal sentence for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States. while the U.S. does not normally accept such exchanges, it happened in part because Yaroshenko has already served a long part of his imprisonment.
The Russians may consider Griner a potential part of another such exchange.
Last week, the State Department said it now considers Greener illegally detained, indicating a change in classification that suggests the U.S. government will step up its efforts to secure her release, even as a legal case unfolds. The change in status places her case within the purview of the special envoy of the President of the Department of Hostages, who is responsible for negotiations on the release of hostages and Americans who are considered illegally detained.
Also working on the case is a center headed by Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who has helped release many hostages and detainees, including Reed.
It is not entirely clear why the U.S. government, which for several weeks has been more cautious in its approach, reclassified Greener as illegally detained. But under federal law, there are a number of factors that fall into this characteristic, including if the detention is based on the fact that he is American, or if the detainee has been duly denied
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed that U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan had a meeting with Russian counterparts, but did not say whether Greener was discussed or talked about further.
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