Brittney Griner's Russia detention: US State Department 'consistently denied access'

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U.S. State Department officials say they're still working to get access to WNBA star Brittney Griner amid her extended detention in Russia. 

Russian news agency TASS reported Thursday that a petition to extend the detention of the 31-year-old All Star until May 19 was granted by a court in Moscow as an investigation into her alleged crimes continues. Griner was arrested sometime in February after security officials at an airport reportedly found vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis.

A member of Russia’s Public Monitoring Commission (POC) told the outlet that a representative from the U.S. consulate has not visited Griner despite "the administration of the pre-trial detention center is ready to create all conditions for his visit," according to a translation.

BRITTNEY GRINER’S RUSSIA DETENTION EXTENDED UNTIL MAY 19, REPORT SAYS 

United States' Brittney Griner grabs a rebound at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

United States' Brittney Griner grabs a rebound at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

But a spokesperson for the State Department told Reuters late Thursday that officials were still working on getting access to all U.S. citizens detained in Russia, including those in pre-trial detention – like Griner. 

"We have repeatedly asked for consular access to these detainees and have consistently been denied access," the spokesperson said. "Russia must abide by its legal obligations and allow us to provide consular services for U.S. citizens detained in Russia."

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A spokesperson also confirmed the U.S.’ stance to ESPN. 

Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury celebrates with fans following Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Footprint Center on Oct. 13, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.  

Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury celebrates with fans following Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Footprint Center on Oct. 13, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.   (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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

A source close to the situation told Fox News Digital that Griner has been "OK" and her Russian legal team has been able to get access to her multiple times a week since she was first detained. 

The WNBA said in a statement that the league was working closely with government officials to ensure her swift and safe return home. 

"This continues to be a complex situation that is extremely difficult for Brittney, her family, and all who are hoping for a swift resolution," the statement said, via Reuters. "Our number one priority remains her safe return."

Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semifinals at Footprint Center on Oct. 6, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semifinals at Footprint Center on Oct. 6, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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"In close collaboration with U.S. government agencies, elected officials, individuals and organizations with expertise in these matters, and Brittney Griner's representatives and family, we continue to work diligently to get her safely home to the United States."

The exact date of Griner’s arrest is unknown but it was announced days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison. 

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