US basketball star Brittney Griner — who has been held in Russia since February on accusations of drug smuggling — will remain in Russian custody through at least July 2, after a Russian court extended her detention, Russian state news agency TASS reported Tuesday.
Griner, 31, has been officially classified as “wrongfully detained,” a US State Department official told CNN in May.
Supporters, including Griner’s family and the WNBA, have vigorously advocated for her release, with some expressing concerns Russia would use Griner as a political pawn amid tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February, when Russian authorities claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage and accused her of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and star of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury plays in Russia during that league’s offseason.
Griner’s detention has been extended repeatedly. A Russian court announced in March it had extended her pretrial detention until mid-May. Last month, Griner’s detention was extended once again until June 18, TASS reported at the time.
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SOURCE: CNN, Karen Smith and Dakin Andone