Dmitry Peskov has defended Russia's detention of Brittney Griner ©Getty Images

Vladimir Putin's press secretary has defended the detention of American basketball player Brittney Griner and has dismissed claims she is a "hostage".

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, was arrested at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport in February.

She was accused of being in possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil and has been held ever since, with her detention extended by 18 days on June 14.

The United States Government considers Griner "wrongfully detained" and her supporters claim she is being held as a political pawn amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Russian authorities have suggested she was "caught red-handed while trying to smuggle hash oil", however.

"There are a number of countries that you can't enter with drugs," said Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov to Russia's state news agency TASS.

"This is also prosecuted under Russian law. 

"Russia is not the only country in the world that has strict legislation in this sense."

When asked if Griner was a hostage, Peskov added: "We can't call her a hostage. 

"Why should we call her a hostage?"

Brittney Griner has been held in Russia for four months  ©Getty Images
Brittney Griner has been held in Russia for four months  ©Getty Images

The charge against Griner reportedly carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

She had travelled to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg during the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) closed season.

Griner has represented Russia's leading club team since 2014, and also plays in the WNBA for Phoenix Mercury.

The 31-year-old center won Olympic gold with the United States at both Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

It has also emerged that a planned phone call between Griner and her wife Cherelle fell through due to a "logistical error" by the US Embassy.

The call to mark the couple's fourth wedding anniversary did not take place as nobody answered a number Griner called 11 times from prison, from which she was supposed to be connected to her wife.

As it was a Saturday, the phone was apparently not being monitored, despite the call being scheduled for a fortnight.