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Reuters

Russian court extends U.S. basketball player Griner's detention

FILE PHOTO: Brittney Griner of the United States gestures during a game against Australia at Saitama Super Arena in their Tokyo 2020 Olympic women's basketball quarterfinal game in Saitama, Japan August 4, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

A Russian court on Friday extended the pre-trial detention of U.S. professional basketball player Brittney Griner by one month, her lawyer told Reuters.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, was arrested in February at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, allegedly in possession of cannabis-infused vaporizer cartridges.

The Russian customs service said at the time that the alleged offence could carry a 5-10 year jail term. The U.S. State Department has said that the 31-year-old was wrongfully detained, and has assigned diplomats to work for her release.

A U.S. Embassy consular officer attended Friday's hearing and spoke to Griner, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

"The officer was able to confirm that Brittney Griner is doing as well as can be expected under what can only be described as exceedingly difficult circumstances," Price said.

Washington and Moscow have kept diplomatic channels open since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, despite the dire state of bilateral relations.

They agreed a prisoner swap last month that saw U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed freed from prison in Russia, where he had been serving a nine-year sentence on assault charges.

He was exchanged for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who had been serving a 20-year sentence in the United States after being convicted of drug trafficking.

Russia continues to hold Paul Whelan, another U.S. Marine veteran who was sentenced to 16 years in prison for espionage in 2020.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Alison Williams)