Brittney Griner 'OK' While Being Detained in Russia, Has Met with Legal Team, Source Says

Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas) previously told ESPN that the WNBA star was arrested on Feb. 17

Brittney Griner
Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty

Brittney Griner "is OK" amid her detention in Russia, a person close to the situation tells PEOPLE.

The 31-year-old WNBA star, who was arrested in February on drug charges, has been meeting with her Russian legal team "multiple times a week over the entire course of her detention," according to the source. Other outlets have similarly reported that Griner has been seen by her lawyers.

During a hearing on Thursday, Griner's legal team challenged the athlete's detention and requested she be transferred to house arrest, the source tells PEOPLE.

The appeal was denied, something the insider said "was not unexpected." Now, Griner and her legal team reportedly await the end of the investigation.

On Thursday, a Russian court ordered Griner be detained for an additional two months as the investigation into her case continues.

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner. Christian Petersen/Getty

The source confirmed to PEOPLE that Griner will remain in custody during the investigation. Should it not conclude by the May 19 extension, the next hearing will determine "how much longer the court needs to extend" Griner's detainment.

"Once it has concluded, a trial date will be set," the source tells PEOPLE. "Until then, the court extends detention by periods of time."

The Russia Federal Customs Service announced Griner's detention on March 5, weeks after Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas) said she was actually arrested on Feb. 17, according to ESPN. Griner was allegedly taken into custody at the Sheremetyevo International Airport.

CNN previously reported that Russian officials have said Griner could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for her charges.

Brittney Griner #15 of Team United States during team warm up before the France V USA Preliminary Round Group B Basketball Women match at the Saitama Super Arena during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games on August 2, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty

Ekaterina Kalugina, described by Russian state news agency TASS as a member of the Moscow human rights group Public Monitoring Commission, said she has also visited Griner at her pre-trial detention center and claimed the athlete did not complain about her detention conditions.

Kalugina also suggested that the U.S. consul has yet to visit the athlete, CNN reported. Allred, 38, told ESPN last week that Griner had not been granted consular access, which he said was "really unusual."

Allred noted that negotiations for Griner's freedom are "happening in the context of really strained relations" amid the Russian attack on Ukraine, per ESPN.

"The Russian criminal justice system is very different than ours, very opaque," he later added. "We don't have a lot of insight into where she is in that process right now. But she's been held for three weeks now, and that's extremely concerning."

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury poses for a portrait during the WNBA Media Day on May 6, 2021, at Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
Brittney Griner. Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is also working to help bring Griner back to the United States. During a March 6 press conference, the 72-year-old Texas Democrat shared her concern for Griner, citing "how dangerous it is right now in Moscow" amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine and conditions "in Moscow prisons" in general.

"It is no place for her," Lee said. She later added that her main concern is "to be helpful to ensure that while she is there, she can be appropriately cared for."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

The WNBA is offering its support as well. On Tuesday, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told PEOPLE that the league has been coordinating with the Phoenix Mercury, "her agent, authorities, administration, strategist experts ... to find the best way to get her home the quickest."

"Our number-one priority is to get Brittney home safely as quickly as we can," said Engelbert, 58, at the time.

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

Updated by Juliet Pennington
Related Articles