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ESPY Awards put focus on plight of jailed Olympian and Phoenix Mercury WNBA star, Brittney Griner

File image: Washington, D. C. mural featuring Brittney Griner
Daisy Gonzalea-Perez/Cronkite News Digest
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Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner is one of the faces, and the only woman, depicted on a new mural in Washington, D.C. dedicated to Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas. She has been held since Feb. 17 in a Russian jail on alleged drug charges.

Phoenix Mercury WNBA star Brittney Griner was front and center at this year’s ESPY Awards. The Olympic gold medalist has been detained in a Russian jail since February on alleged drug possession charges.

At Wednesday night’s ceremony, soccer star Megan Rapinoe, show host Stephen Curry and other athletes encouraged support for Griner, calling attention to her plight. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry says the United States has shown disrespect for Russian law by characterizing her imprisonment as “wrongful detention.”

Griner acknowledged in court this month that she had mistakenly put cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage, but said she had no intent to break the law. One of her attorneys has reportedly produced a doctor’s letter prescribing medical cannabis for pain.

The Ministry spokesperson said Thursday the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational use in parts of the U.S. has no bearing on what happens in Russia.