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Russia court adds 18 days in jail for stranded WNBA star Brittney Griner

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Russia court adds 18 days in jail for stranded WNBA star Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner was arrested about a week before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, and some U.S. officials are concerned that Americans jailed in Russia could be used as leverage. File Photo by Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons

June 14 (UPI) -- A Russian court on Tuesday extended pre-trial detention for American basketball star Brittney Griner, who's so far spent more than three months in prison on drug charges.

Griner, 31, has repeatedly been detained in Russia since February after an airport stop for allegedly carrying vape cartridges with hashish oil in her luggage.

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The seven-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist will remain in custody at least through July 2, according to Russia's state-run TASS news agency Tuesday.

The agency said that the court's 18-day extension for Griner came at "the request of the investigation."

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Griner was arrested about a week before Russia invaded Ukraine, and some U.S. officials are concerned that Americans jailed in Russia could be used as leverage.

Last month, the U.S. government changed Griner's status to "wrongfully detained," which means that the United States will take more proactive measures to free Griner and will no longer wait for the Russian justice system to resolve the issue.

When the WNBA kicked off this year's season on May 6, it honored Griner with a floor decal bearing her initials and jersey number (No. 42) on the sideline of all 12 WNBA courts. Griner plays for the Phoenix Mercury.

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Griner went to Russia to play for the Russian Premier League team UMMC Ekaterinburg. Women basketball players often compete for teams overseas during their U.S. offseason to earn more income. She was arrested on Feb. 17 at Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow.

If convicted of the charges, Griner could be sentenced to as many as 10 years in prison.

Griner's pre-trial detention was previously extended to May 19, and then for another 30 days before Tuesday's addition.

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