Report: Russian court extends Griner’s arrest until May 19

Sports

FILE – Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) looks to pass as Chicago Sky center Candace Parker defends during the first half of game 1 of the WNBA basketball Finals , Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Phoenix. Griner was arrested in Russia last month at a Moscow airport after a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges. The Russian Customs Service said Saturday, March 5, 2022, that the cartridges were identified as containing oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The customs service identified the person arrested as a female player for the U.S. national team and did not specify the date of her arrest. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)

(NewsNation) — A Moscow court has extended the arrest of WNBA star Brittney Griner until May 19, according to the Russian state news agency Tass.

Griner was detained at a Moscow airport in February after Russian authorities say they found vape cartridges containing cannabis-derived oil in her luggage. The alleged offense could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

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

More than a dozen WNBA players were playing in Russia and Ukraine this winter.

The United States embassy in Moscow did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Griner, 31, is a seven-time All-Star and one of the most recognizable players in women’s basketball. She has won two Olympic gold medals with the U.S., a WNBA championship with the Phoenix Mercury and a national championship at Baylor.

As the war in Ukraine intensifies, analysts say Russian officials might see American detainees as potential bargaining chips to use with the West.

In 2019, Marine veteran Trevor Reed was studying Russian and visiting his girlfriend in Russia when he was sentenced and convicted to nine years in prison for an altercation in Moscow where he allegedly assaulted police officers who picked him up after a party. His family denies all allegations.

Also currently in Russian prison is corporate security executive Paul Whelan, accused of espionage.

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