In March, a Russian court extended Griner’s detention until at least May 19 and dismissed an appeal from Griner’s legal team in Russia, which had hoped to put her under house arrest. That hearing did not deal with the merits of the case.
News of Griner’s new status comes less than a week after the United States conducted a prisoner swap with Moscow. Russia had detained Trevor R. Reed, a former US Marine, for two years on what his family believed to be trumped-up assault charges.
Reed’s release renewed optimism that Griner would also be released.
“As I do everything I can to get BG home, my heart overflows with joy for the Reed family,” Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, wrote on Instagram. “I don’t know them personally, but I know the pain of locking up your loved one abroad. That level of pain is constant and can only be remedied by returning home safely.”
Of the widely known cases of Americans wrongfully detained abroad, the average case lasted more than four years, said Cynthia Loertscher, director of research at the nonprofit James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. The foundation is named after an American journalist who was kidnapped and executed by Islamic State in Syria in 2014.
The United States has designated US citizens and US citizens currently imprisoned in countries including China, Venezuela, Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus, Myanmar and Cuba as wrongfully detained US citizens. In an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired in February, Roger D. Carstens, the diplomat who will oversee the various agencies’ efforts to free Griner, said more than 40 Americans were wrongfully held abroad. .
Many WNBA players join international teams to earn extra income during the league’s off-season. The top players can earn over $1 million playing in Russia. Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time All-Star, will earn about $228,000 in the 2022 season from the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, according to website Her Hoop Stats, just below the league’s maximum salary.