Despite hopes that WNBA star Brittney Griner might be released from a Russian prison, it was announced Tuesday that her detention has been extended until July 2, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
Griner has been detained in Russian since February 17 when airport authorities allege to have found vape cartridges containing a cannabis derivative inside her luggage.
While the decision was met with strong reactions and anger from her friends, family, supporters, and the sports world, there was little reason to think this wasn’t going to happen.
ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn, who has covered the story from the beginning, spoke about why this decision was inevitable and why we should expect it to happen “again and again” until the U.S. government makes a deal with Russia to bring the basketball star home.
2. It's almost certain that BG's detention will be extended again and again until a deal is reached to bring her home. As experts have said, it's theater, not jurisprudence. /3
— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) June 14, 2022
Quinn says that the decision is “theater, not jurisprudence.”
“Hostage diplomacy cases rely on the pretense of law. The Russians won’t ever say ‘we’re holding Brittney Griner hostage,’ but by repeatedly postponing her trial, they’re communicating their intentions,” Danielle Gilbert, assistant professor of military and strategic studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy said, per ESPN. “Dragging out her detention, missing court deadlines — these are key indicators that we should question the legitimacy of her arrest, precisely why the U.S. classified it as a wrongful detention.”
There have been reports that Russia is interested in trading Griner for Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States for selling arms to terrorists.