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WNBA Star Brittney Griner Denied Release From Russian Prison For the 3rd Time

WNBA Star Brittney Griner Denied Release From Russian Prison For the 3rd Time

WNBA star Brittney Griner will remain in Russian custody through at least July 2nd, the Russian state-run news agency Tass reported on Tuesday.

The Khimki district court of the Moscow region extended Griner’s detention for a third time, according to the Tass report, which also cited a top Russian diplomat as saying that Moscow “will not consider” including Griner in a detainee swap “until a court investigation into her case is completed.” According to Tass, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was responding to US media reports that the Biden administration had offered to exchange convicted arms trader Viktor Bout for Griner. Ryabkov gave no timeline for the proceedings in Griner’s case.

 

Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury during the regular WNBA season, has been imprisoned in Russia since February, when she was detained at a Moscow airport after authorities there claimed she was carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The two-time Olympic gold medalist, who plays in Russia during the WNBA offseason, was accused of “smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance,” an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison in Russia. The U.S. State Department reclassified her as “wrongfully detained” last month.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Tuesday that it was his understanding that department officials learned of the extension in her detention only through Tass, which he said was “problematic.”

 

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“This case is problematic from top to bottom,” he said. “It is precisely why we have characterized Brittney Griner as an unlawful detainee. It’s precisely why we are doing everything we can to seek and to affect her prompt release from Russian detention.”

 

 

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