Russia extends detention for WNBA star Brittney Griner

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Russia extends detention for WNBA star Brittney Griner

WNBA star Brittney Griner — who was detained in Russia for allegedly smuggling drugs — will remain in custody until at least July 2, Russian state news reported Tuesday.

Griner’s pre-trial detention was extended by the Khmki court in the Moscow region, NBC News reported, citing Russian state news agency TASS.

Tuesday’s announcement marks the second time the 31-year-old’s detention has been extended. In March, Russia announced that she would remain in custody until at least May 19.

The basketball star has been held in Russia since February, when she was arrested for allegedly bringing cannabis oil into the country.

Griner’s detention came at a time of heightened tensions over Russia’s imminent invasion of Ukraine, and the White House has since declared her “wrongly detained,” and handed her case to a special state department unit that negotiates for the release of American hostages.

Russian authorities defended Griner’s arrest last month, saying it was based on “objective facts and evidence.”

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner leaves a courtroom after a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, May 13, 2022.
Brittney Griner will remain detained until July 2, a Russian court announced.
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner during the first half of Game 2 of basketball's WNBA Finals against the Chicago Sky, Oct. 13, 2021, in Phoenix.
Brittney Griner was jailed for allegedly smuggling vape cartridges at a Moscow airport.
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File
Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner (42) shoots against Chicago Sky's Azura Stevens (30) during the first half of Game 4 of the WNBA Finals, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Chicago.
NBA and WNBA players have demanded Russia to release Brittney Griner.
AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File

“She was caught red-handed while trying to smuggle hash oil,” Moscow said in a statement. “In Russia this is a crime.”

Griner, an All-Star who won the WNBA championship in 2014 with the Phoenix Mercury, has played for a Russian team in the offseason for the past several years to earn extra money.

She faces five to 10 years in Russian prison if convicted on drug smuggling charges.

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