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US WNBA All-Star Griner’s Detention Extended in Russia – TASS

NEW YORK, March 17 (Reuters) – The WNBA said on Thursday that it was working with the US government to free seven-time All-Star Brittany Griner from a Russian prison after the TASS news agency said it was holding vape cartridges. He was taken into custody for Hash oil was extended till May 19.

TASS said the Moscow region’s Khimkinsky court ruled to detain Griner, 31, for at least two more months.

His detention has expanded at a time of high tension between the United States and Russia following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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“This remains a complex situation that remains extremely difficult for Brittany, her family and all those who look forward to a speedy resolution,” the WNBA said in a statement. “Our number one priority is his safe return.”

“In close collaboration with U.S. government agencies, elected officials, individuals and organizations specializing in these matters, and with Brittany Griner’s representatives and family, we continue to work diligently to find her a safe home in the United States.”

Griner’s representatives, citing a previous statement to Reuters, indicated they would not comment on the specifics of the ongoing legal case.

Griner won Olympic gold medals with the US national teams in 2016 and 2021. She plays center for the Phoenix Mercury team, and plays in Russia during the WNBA’s winter off-season.

The new WNBA regular season ends on May 6.

Brittany Griner of the United States gestures during a game against Australia at Saitama Super Arena at their Tokyo 2020 Olympic women’s basketball quarterfinal game in Saitama, Japan on August 4, 2021. Reuters/Brian Snyder

TASS reported that Griner was sharing a cell with two other women with no previous convictions, adding that her only issue was that the prison beds were too small for her 6’7″ frame.

The Russian Customs Service said earlier this month that a player had been detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after taking off from New York. read more

TASS quoted a source as identifying the player as Griner.

The Customs Service said a scan of the player’s luggage revealed a “liquid with hash oil” cartridge, and opened a criminal case that could carry a prison sentence of five to 10 years.

It was unclear when Griner was taken into custody, but it was announced after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The invasion has dramatically strained relations between Washington and Moscow, and US President Joe Biden this week called Russian leader Vladimir Putin a war criminal.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”, designed not to capture territory but to destroy its neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what they perceived as dangerous nationalists.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that the Biden administration had assigned an embassy team to work on Griner’s case. read more

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Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru and Amy Teneri in New York; Editing by Toby Davis, Ken Ferris and Christian Radnez

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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