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WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia extended: report

Click to play video: 'Fears rise WNBA star Brittney Griner being held as Russian political prisoner' Fears rise WNBA star Brittney Griner being held as Russian political prisoner
WATCH ABOVE: After being arrested in February over drug smuggling allegations, Russia is now extending the detention of U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner. As Mike Drolet reports, fears are growing Griner is caught in a political battle between Moscow and Washington – Mar 17, 2022

The Russian detention of Brittney Griner, seven-time WNBA all-star player, has been extended until May 19, Reuters reported.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist and Phoenix Mercury player, 31, is in Russian custody after customs officials claimed they found hashish oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow in February.

Russian authorities claim Griner was arrested on allegations of “smuggling significant amounts of narcotic substance” into the country. A criminal case has been opened in Russia, carrying a possible sentence of five to 10 years in prison.

Read more: Global economy will suffer from Russia’s war on Ukraine, OECD warns

The Khimkinsky court of the Moscow region ruled to detain Griner for at least another two months, granting a request of the investigation.

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It is unclear when in February Griner was detained, as the date of her arrest was not specified by the customs service.

A member of the Public Monitoring Commission, a semi-official body with access to Russian prisons, told TASS, a Russian news agency, Griner was sharing a cell with two other women with no previous convictions. They added Griner’s only issue was the prison beds, which are too short for her six-foot-nine-inch frame.

At a recent press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration assigned an embassy team to work on Griner’s case.

“We have an embassy team that’s working on the cases of other Americans who are detained in Russia. We’re doing everything we can to see to it that their rights are upheld and respected,” said Blinken.

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Griner was in the country to play for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg, which she has done in the WNBA off-season since 2015.

On Wednesday, former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton called for Griner’s release on Twitter.

 

Griner’s friends and family, including her wife Cherelle Griner, have also called for her release while asking for privacy as they navigate her return home.

Read more: Russia takes aim at U.S., warns it has ‘might’ to put ‘brash enemies in their place’

“Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated. I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life,” Cherelle Griner wrote on Instagram.

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