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WNBA star Brittney Griner made her first public appearance in a Russian courtroom since she was arrested in February for allegedly trying to carry vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis through an airport.
The 6-foot-9 center for the Phoenix Mercury was seen in handcuffs wearing an orange hoodie with her hood over her head. Griner’s pre-trial extension was extended for one month. She was set to have her first hearing over the allegations, which if found guilty can carry a penalty of 10 years in prison.
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Alexander Boikov told The Associated Press he believed the short extension would mean her trial would happen soon.
The U.S. State Department determined Russia “wrongfully detained” the Mercury center when she was arrested in February, an official said in a statement to Fox News Digital earlier this month.
“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is among the highest priorities of the U.S government,” a State Department spokesperson said. “The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner.
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“With this determination, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will lead the interagency team for securing Brittney Griner’s release.”
Fox News Digital also confirmed Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico and a U.S. ambassador for the Clinton administration, agreed to help work on the Griner case. Richardson helped secure the release of American journalist Danny Fenster from a Burmese prison in November.
Griner’s family requested Richardson and the Richardson Center to work on her behalf to secure her return to the U.S.
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The WNBA has kept her top of mind as the season began. The “BG 42” decal was placed on each of the 12 courts in the league. Players have called for her return to the U.S. as well.