Brittney Griner was seen in court for first time on May 13.

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.

Surveillance footage of Griner in the airport before her arrest.
Griner faces years up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

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.