Russia extends arrest of US basketball star Brittney Griner over drugs charge

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Russia extends arrest of US basketball star Brittney Griner over drugs charge

A Russian court has extended the detention of US basketball star Brittney Griner for another two months over drugs charge.

The 31-year-old has been held in Moscow since February when customs officials allegedly found cannabis oil in her luggage. The crime carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence.

Hillary Clinton had called for her release, after re-tweeting a BBC article about the player’s predicament. But the Moscow court announced on Thursday it was keeping her in custody.

“The court granted the request of the investigation and extended the period of detention of the US citizen Griner until May 19,” the court said, according to Tass.

Arguably the greatest female basketball player of all time, the double Olympic gold medallist has been called the “Tom Brady of her sport”.

Ms. Griner went to Russia to play during the US league’s off-season.

In one of the last public sightings of her, captured on CCTV, the player is seen walking through security at a Moscow airport trailing a small, black suitcase.

Ekaterina Kalugina, a member of Public Monitoring Commission, a semi-official body with access to Russian prisons, told Russian news agency TASS Ms Griner was sharing a cell with two other women with no previous convictions.

She said Ms. Griner’s “only issue” was that the prison beds were too short for her tall frame.

The US State Department said in a statement that it is doing everything it can to help her.

A spokesperson for the State Department told the BBC on Thursday that US diplomats are “closely engaged on this case and in frequent contact with Brittney Griner’s legal team”.

“We insist the Russian government provide consular access to all US citizen detainees in Russia, including those in pre-trial detention, as Brittney Griner is.”

The official added that Russia has “consistently” denied access to Americans held in Russian jails.

“Russia must abide by its legal obligations and allow us to provide consular services for US citizens detained in Russia,” they continued.

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