SAITAMA, JAPAN - JULY 27: Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States prepares to shoot a free throw against Nigeria during the second half of a Women's Preliminary Round Group B game on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on July 27, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
WNBA star arrested in Russia on drug charges
03:53 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A month after US basketball star Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia, it’s still not clear exactly where she’s being held.

But a Moscow court has ordered the 31-year-old to stay in custody until at least May 19, the Russian state news agency TASS reported March 17.

“The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the US citizen Griner until May 19,” the court said, according to TASS.

Griner is a championship-winning player with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury who has spent her past several offseasons playing for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg.

But last month, Russian authorities accused Griner of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance after flying from New York to a Moscow airport.

Now, the mystery surrounding her detainment in a country she’s worked in for years has come to symbolize the growing tensions between the US and Russia during Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.

Here’s what we know (and don’t) about what happened to the two-time Olympic champion:

Why was Griner detained?

The Russian Federal Customs Service said an American was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after being found with hash oil.

“As a US citizen was passing through the green channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York, a working dog from the Sheremetyevo customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage,” a statement from the customs service said.

“The customs inspection of the hand luggage being carried by the US citizen confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance.”

The Russian statement did not identify Griner by name, but said the detainee is an American professional basketball player and two-time US Olympian.

The customs agency said the US citizen was placed in pretrial detention. It said a criminal case was underway for smuggling significant amounts of narcotic substances – an offense carries a potential punishment of five to 10 years in prison.

Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has publicly called for the release of her wife. USA Basketball, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the Phoenix Mercury and the WNBA players’ union have all publicly shared their concerns for Griner.

When was Griner arrested?

The Russian customs agency said in a statement a US citizen was detained “in February of 2022,” after flying to Moscow from New York, but did not say what day.

US Rep. Colin Allred, whose office has been in touch with the US State Department, said Griner was arrested in Russia on February 17.

A State Department spokesperson said the department is “aware of and closely engaged on this case.”

Where is Griner now?

As of March 17, Griner’s exact whereabouts were not clear.

Ekaterina Kalugina, a representative of Moscow’s Public Monitoring Commission – which observes the treatment of prisoners – visited Griner at her pre-trial detention center, TASS reported.

A court advocate said Griner should be kept under house arrest because their jail beds are a foot too short for Griner, who is 6 feet 9 inches tall, according to the Russian news service RIA Novosti.

Can Griner communicate with anyone in the US?

Allred said Griner has been in contact with her Russian lawyer, who is in touch with her agent and her family in the US. But Griner’s consular service has been blocked, which is “extremely concerning,” Allred said.

TASS quoted Kalugina as saying the US consul had not yet visited Griner, despite Russian authorities’ willingness to “create all conditions” for their visit.

CNN has reached out to