WNBA Star Brittney Griner's Legal Nightmare In Russia Just Went From Bad To Worse

After over four months of detainment in Russia, Brittney Griner is now facing a more extensive legal battle. The WNBA player was arrested in February, after Moscow airport authorities found cannabis vape cartridges in Griner's luggage, per CBS News. Possession of the substance — which is illegal in Russia — could see Griner facing nearly 10 years in prison.

Despite pleas from Griner's wife Cherelle and American politicians, the athlete has remained in custody without any promise of release. Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was among those calling for Griner's freedom. She tweeted an article which detailed Griner's arrest and included the message, "Free Brittney."

Since her arrest, Griner's pre-trial detention has been extended multiple times, according to Yahoo. Per the outlet, the extension grants Russian prosecutors additional time to gather evidence, but also delays Griner's release. And while the U.S. has classified Griner as a "wrongfully detained" citizen, her legal debacle has just gotten worse.

Brittney Griner's detention has been extended again

During a preliminary hearing on June 27, a Russian court extended WNBA player Brittney Griner's detainment for a fourth time. According to the Associated Press, Griner will remain in custody for an additional six months. As such, the Phoenix Mercury player will remain in jail for the duration of her trial, which is set to begin on July 1.

The extent of Griner's legal troubles has been messy from the start. In May, Russian news outlets reported that the government would release Griner in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian entrepreneur currently sentenced in the U.S. "Currently, talks are underway on exchanging Bout for Griner," a source revealed. However, negotiator Roger Carstens declined to comment on the rumored deal, per Yahoo.

Following the news of Griner's detention extension, fans took to social media to voice their support for the basketball player. "Free Brittney this is absolutely ridiculous," one person tweeted. While another wrote, "This is so horrible. I feel so bad for her forreal. This is literally one of the top female athletes in the whole world."

Brittney Griner tried to call her wife 11 times

There's no doubt that Brittney Griner's loved ones are doing everything they can to ensure her safe return home. According to MSNBC, Griner's partner Cherelle has repeatedly asked to speak to President Joe Biden, but he has yet to get on the phone with her. If that weren't enough, Griner has tried to call her wife through the U.S. Embassy in Russia 11 times, but so far has been unsuccessful in doing so.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Cherelle admitted that she's at her wit's end. She said, "I find it unacceptable and I have zero trust in our government right now. If I can't trust you to catch a Saturday call outside of business hours, how can I trust you to actually be negotiating on my wife's behalf to come home? Because that's a much bigger ask than to catch a Saturday call.”

To make matters worse, the State Department's excuses in the matter aren't helping the situation, either.

Brittney Griner's loved ones can't reach her

In response to Cherelle Griner's failed efforts to reach her partner, Brittney Griner, the State Department issued a statement that said (via MSNBC), "We deeply regret that Brittney Griner was unable to speak with her wife because of a logistical error." However, White House national security advister Jake Sullivan insists that Brittney's case has the "fullest attention of the president," and that President Joe Biden is doing all he can to bring her back home, as detailed by The Hill. "We are actively working to find a resolution to this case and will continue to do so without rest until we get Brittney safely home," Sullivan added.

That said, Brittney's friends, family, and colleagues are still fighting for her release in the hopes that their message will come across both loud and clear. Fellow WNBA star Breanna Stewart tweeted on June 27, "It has been 130 days since our friend, Brittney Griner, has been wrongfully detained in Russia. It is time for her to come home. @WhiteHouse @potus @vp , we are paying attention and we are counting on you," while tennis legend Billie Jean King added, "It's time to take action for Brittney Griner. A broad coalition of civil and human rights organizations are calling on @WhiteHouse officials to bring her home swiftly and safely." As far as when Griner will come home remains to be seen, but it's safe to say that her loved ones won't stop fighting until she's back on American soil.