Russian prosecutors defended the arrest of US women’s basketball player Brittney Griner after the Biden administration called her detention “illegal.”
In a statement Thursday, Russian authorities said that the 31-year-old was detained by police in Moscow in February based on “objective facts and evidence.”
“She was caught red-handed while trying to smuggle hash oil,” said the statement. “In Russia this is a crime.”
Earlier this month, the US State Department called Griner’s arrest “illegal” and “wrongful.”
Griner was caught attempting to leave the country with vape cartridges containing a derivative of cannabis oil. While legal in other parts of the world, the cartridges are banned in Russia.
Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury as well as a Russian team in the off season, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. She appeared in court Friday — the first time she has appeared in public since her arrest.