Vladimir Putin's Spokesperson Griner Isn't Political Prisoner ... She Broke Russian Law

Vladimir Putin, through his spokesperson, is talking about Brittney Griner's imprisonment for the first time ... refuting the charge the WNBA star is a political prisoner, saying she's locked up because she violated Russian law.

31-year-old Griner has been behind bars since February after Russian officials say she attempted to bring hashish oil into the country. The U.S., however, characterized her detainment as being politically motivated.

In other words, America believes Griner's being used as a bargaining chip ... as relations between Russia and America (and the West in general) are incredibly strained with war raging in Ukraine.

But, Dmitry Peskov, Putin's mouthpiece, told NBC News Brittney's detainment is simple -- she broke the law, and is being held accountable just like "hundreds and hundreds of Russian citizens that were sentenced for carrying hashish."

Peskov then asked ... "Why should we make an exemption for a foreign citizen?"

Putin's spokesperson also said there are many Americans living legally in Russia.

"[Griner] violated Russian law, and now she’s being prosecuted," Peskov said.

"It’s not about being a hostage. There are lots of American citizens here. They’re enjoying their freedoms … but you have to obey the laws."

Despite Russia's latest claim ... it's likely it'll do little to change the minds of Griner's family, friends, and fans -- and the United States government -- who almost all believe her detainment is motivated by geopolitical issues ... rather than a relatively minor drug infraction.

Trinidad James Too Much Tragedy for ATL Hip Hop ... Shares Last Convo with Trouble

THE SCARY SIDE OF FAME
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Atlanta hip hop culture is having a really rough go of it this year -- but one of the city's beloved rappers, Trinidad James, says the ATL will power through these hard times.

We caught up with the "All Gold Everything" rap star Wednesday at LAX, and it's clear he was traveling with a heavy heart.

Between the murder of Metro Boomin's mom at the hands of her own husband to Young Thug, Gunna and much of YSL's RICO indictments to Lil Keed's sudden death ... ATL rappers have had an extraordinary bad luck streak.

Trinidad attributes the downward spiral to the fact Atlanta's been on top for several years now, and as he puts it -- when you're at the top, "there's all types of energies, people and situations just trying to take you down."

The murder of Def Jam rapper Trouble also weighed on Trinidad ... in the wake of the alleged killer surrendering to cops.

Trinidad told us about a recent text exchange with Trouble, which was their last communication, and it was a lighthearted -- and slightly racy -- joke between friends.

For now, Trinidad is telling everyone in the ATL to be safe and "keep our heads high." Sound advice.

Trevor Reed Calls For Griner's Release At Rally ... 'There Is No Justice In Russia'

Trevor Reed, a former Marine who was detained in Russia for nearly 3 years, is calling for the release of WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, explaining the conditions in the country are "like you're waking up to a nightmare."

Reed, who just was released from Russian custody as part of a prisoner swap in April, asked for a sense of urgency in the Griner case at a rally organized by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in the hooper's Houston hometown on Monday.

"We need to all speak out for these Americans, because every single one of us is an American," Reed said. "Every day that you're in prison there, it's like you're waking up to a nightmare."

Reed said he believes it's pointless to let Griner's case play out in the court systems in the foreign country ... explaining, "There is no justice in Russia."

"Brittney and Paul [Whelan] will not receive justice in Russia," he said. "They will not receive a fair trial in Russia.”

Griner has been in custody since mid-February -- when Russian authorities claimed she tried to smuggle hashish oil into the country.

Reed said at the rally what she is going through is inhumane ... explaining the conditions that he experienced while in Russian custody included rotten food and lack of adequate medical care.

Griner has another court hearing in Russia slated for later this month ... but Reed said at the rally he's not optimistic it'll lead to anything positive for the 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury center.

"They will be there as hostages until the United States gets them out," he said.

'Tiger King' Doc Antle Arrested in South Carolina

UPDATE

3:51 PM PT -- Federal law enforcement sources close to the investigation tell us the charges have to do with money laundering. He'll be in court next week.

Doc Antle -- who found fame among the sea of characters on 'Tiger King' -- has been arrested in South Carolina.

Online jail records indicate the 62-year-old -- real name, Bhagavan Antle -- was booked within the last hour in Horry County, South Carolina. Interestingly enough, the arresting agency is the FBI ... though, at this time, it's unclear why he's been arrested.

Antle's the owner of Myrtle Beach Safari, and has faced plenty of criticism over the years for his operation, a lot of which has come thanks to celebrity visits he's held.

However, in October 2020 he was indicted in Virginia for felony wildlife trafficking after an investigation found evidence he trafficked lion cubs between South Carolina and Virginia.

After the indictment, Doc told us, “I am terribly shocked and disappointed at the charges that have been filed against me by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and how they have sought to involve my daughters in this matter. I categorically deny any act or conduct that could ever be considered as “animal cruelty."

He's also come under fire from PETA for hosting guests like Larsa Pippen and Chris Brown's daughter, Royalty, and allowing them to interact with young animals.

Story developing ...

Originally Published -- 3:37 PM PT

Cherelle Griner Pleads With Joe Biden ... Help Bring Brittney Back From Russia

BRING HER HOME, BIDEN
ABC

Brittney Griner's wife is urging Joe Biden to get more involved in the WNBA star's case in Russia ... hoping that'll ultimately help bring home the love of her life.

Cherelle Griner made the plea to the President during a sitdown interview with Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America" this week ... explaining she believes Biden could be the key to getting Brittney back on U.S. soil.

"I just keep hearing that he has the power," Cherelle said of Biden. "She's a political pawn -- so, if they're holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it."

DETAINED IN RUSSIA
customs.gov.ru

Brittney has been detained in Russia since mid-February ... after authorities claimed they found hash oil in her luggage.

Cherelle told Roberts she initially found out about it all through a panicked, early-hours text message from Brittney.

"She started texting me around 2 AM that morning," Cherelle said. "'Babe! Babe! Babe! Wake up! They have me in this room, I don't know what's going on.'"

Cherelle said Brittney told her the authorities were taking her phone and not to text anymore -- and she said outside of written letters, she has not been able to speak to Brittney since.

Cherelle said she has been in contact with Secretary of State Antony Blinken about ways they can bring home Brittney ... but she clearly feels more can be done by the U.S. government.

"I was grateful for their call," she said of the talk with Blinken. "You say she's top priority, but I want to see it. And I feel like to see it, would be me seeing BG on US soil."

Cherelle added being without Brittney -- who's expected to remain in custody in Russia until at least her next court hearing in June -- has been difficult ... and she even broke down in tears during the interview with Roberts.

She did explain, however, that Brittney has told her to remain strong.

"I'm OK because you have to be," Cherelle said ... adding, "I won't go down until she's back."

Brittney Griner Russian Detention Extended ... Request For House Arrest Denied

Brittney Griner will remain in custody in Russia for at least another month ... a judge just denied her request for house arrest, forcing her to stay in jail for another 30 days.

The 31-year-old WNBA superstar appeared in a Russian courtroom on Friday morning with the hopes of getting out of jail ... but her attorney told the Associated Press that did not happen.

The attorney, Alexander Boikov, did say, though, that because of the short nature of the custody extension ... he did believe a trial in Griner's case might be coming soon.

Griner wore an orange sweatshirt to Friday's hearing, and left the courtroom with a hood up over her head. In photos of her leaving her appearance, you can see she was wearing cuffs on her wrists.

DETAINED IN RUSSIA
customs.gov.ru

As we reported, Griner has been in custody in Russia since February -- after she allegedly had hash oil in her luggage at an airport.

She's now had her requests for house arrest denied at least two times by judges as her pre-trial detention has dragged on.

United States officials, meanwhile, have classified her as "wrongfully detained" ... and are attempting to negotiate her release.

IN HER HONOR
Instagram / @suns, @phoenixmercury

The WNBA and NBA have shown their support for Griner throughout her detention -- with both leagues putting "BG42" logos on their courts. Players from the leagues have been spotted honoring Griner with shirts and other messages as well.

Brittney Griner Suns Debut Decal For WNBA Star ... For Playoffs

IN HER HONOR
Instagram / @suns, @phoenixmercury

The Phoenix Suns are making sure to show support for Brittney Griner for the remainder of their playoff run -- by putting a decal on their court in honor of the WNBA superstar as she remains detained in Russia.

As we previously reported, the Phoenix Mercury center has been detained since February ... after she was accused of having hash oil in her luggage while going through airport security.

Sports, entertainment and political figures have been calling for her release ever since ... with President Joe Biden's administration even claiming Griner is being wrongfully detained in hopes of bringing her home sooner.

The Suns revealed the "BG42" decal ahead of their game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday ... saying, "One family. #WeAreBG."

"Honoring Brittney Griner on our court for the remainder of the playoffs. 💜🧡"

The decal is the same one the WNBA debuted recently ... with commissioner Cathy Engelbert promising to keep "Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community."

"We continue to work on bringing Brittney home," Englebert added, "and are appreciative of the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily challenging time."

The series is currently tied at 2-2 ... and if the Suns advance, Griner will continue to be remembered on the court.

Rihanna Backstage for A$AP Rocky's Set ... Yeah, I'm With Him!!!

Rihanna wants to make it clear to everyone ... she and A$AP Rocky are solid.

A$AP headlined at the Smokers Club Festival Saturday night in WeHo, and RiRi was backstage showing her support.

She's reportedly just weeks away from giving birth to her first child, but showing up at the club was clearly important to her.

There's been lots of drama over the last few weeks. As we reported, A$AP was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon last month in connection with a shooting last November in Hollywood. A$AP and Rihanna were blindsided by cops who met them at LAX and hooked Rocky up. They then searched his house for weapons but did not find the gun used in the shooting.

There have also been media reports of Rocky cheating, although sources connected to the couple dismiss them as BS.

A$AP Rocky Cops Find Guns at L.A. Home During Search Over Hollywood Shooting

UPDATE

8:49 AM PT -- Sources close to Rocky tell us cops determined very quickly the "lawfully purchased and legally registered" guns found in the rapper's home were not connected to the crime. Our Rocky sources tell us officers never even removed the weapons from the home, because they knew there was no relation to the weapon used in the alleged shooting.

UPDATE

Our law enforcement sources maintain they seized weapons from the home.

The search at A$AP Rocky's home turned up guns, multiple guns, but what's unclear ... did cops seize the gun that was used to shoot a man during an argument in Hollywood?

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... detectives will run ballistic tests on the weapons ... to determine if Rocky was the triggerman.

We're also told cops will run background on the firearms to determine where they came from, who bought them, or if they'd been reported stolen.

4/20/22
ON THE SCENE
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As we reported, Rocky was arrested at a private LAX terminal last week when he and Rihanna returned from Barbados. Rocky was booked for assault with a deadly weapon stemming from the shooting in November in which cops say Rocky and an accomplice got into an argument in Hollywood that escalated to gunfire -- the alleged victim's hand was grazed.

TMZ broke the story ... Rocky and his legal team say they were shocked by the arrest and his alleged ties to the shooting. Rather than coordinate a voluntary surrender, cops simply nabbed him off the jet. Police say they needed the element of surprise so as not to tip A$AP off they would search his house for the weapon.

If one of the guns seized at Rocky's home turns out to be the weapon in question ... it could cement the case for prosecutors, who have yet to charge Rocky.

Originally Published -- 1:00 AM PT

A$AP and Rihanna Grabbin' Dinner Days After Arrest

A$AP Rocky has resurfaced for the first time following his arrest, and Rihanna was right by his side.

The expecting parents hit up RiRi's favorite joint Saturday night -- Georgio Baldi in Santa Monica. The dinner reportedly was a baby shower of sorts with fam and friends. It looks like a combo of casual and fancy.

As TMZ reported, Rocky was arrested Wednesday when he and Rihanna touched down at LAX from Barbados. Cops booked the rapper on the charge of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly firing a shot at a man and grazing his arm during an argument in Hollywood back in November.

4/20/22
ON THE SCENE
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At the same time, police cuffed A$AP ... they executed a search warrant at his home, presumably looking for a gun that matched the one in the shooting. Cops carted out several boxes of stuff.

It's unclear how far along Rihanna is, other than the fact she's in her third trimester ... she looks awesome!

A$AP Rocky, Rihanna Blindsided, Shocked When Cops Arrested Him ... Cops Say They Had Their Reasons

A$AP Rocky was totally blindsided by cops when they showed up at a private, LAX terminal and put him in handcuffs ... all while a pregnant and equally shocked Rihanna looked on.

Law enforcement sources tell us ... cops chose not to give Rocky or his team a heads up. In fact, we're told the arrest was more than a week in the making.

There's a very common procedure LAPD and other agencies employ when they arrest a suspect ... a voluntary surrender. The cops would typically call the suspect's lawyer or other rep and arrange for the suspect to turn himself/herself in without fanfare. That didn't happen here, and we're told Rocky and his team can't understand why ... it's not like he would escape -- and, by the way, his girlfriend is in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.

4/20/22
ON THE SCENE
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Our law enforcement sources say the reason they blindsided Rocky was because they wanted to see if they could find the gun used in the shooting. As we reported, cops believe A$AP shot a man in Hollywood during an argument back in November. The bullet grazed the victim's hand. Cops wanted to find the gun and worried if they gave Rocky a heads up, he might 86 it. That's why they coordinated the arrest and the search of his home so both went down at the same time.

We're told at least 10 cops were waiting for Rocky when his private jet pulled up to the terminal ... and that's when they cuffed him and took him away. Rihanna and Rocky were on their way back from Barbados.

We're also told Rihanna wanted to go by his place Wednesday morning and pick up some of her stuff but cops wouldn't let her in.

HEADIN' HOME
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Rocky posted $550,000 bail Wednesday and was released. The D.A. has the case, and should make a decision soon on whether to file charges.

A$AP Rocky I'm Free Again ... First Pics of Jail Exit After LAX Arrest

Here's A$AP Rocky leaving LAPD headquarters -- surrounded by several officers -- after his arrest for a 2021 shooting.

The rapper posted $550k bail before he was able to walk out of police HQ Wednesday afternoon in DTLA, and directly into a waiting SUV in the rear parking lot. This was several hours after he was busted at LAX.

HEADIN' HOME
TMZ.com

As we reported, Rocky was arrested after flying back from Barbados with Rihanna on a private jet, with cops meeting him at the terminal and taking him away in handcuffs.

We're told A$AP was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon with a gun ... and our law enforcement sources say the arrest is for a November 6 incident where an alleged victim claims Rocky shot at him multiple times, and at least one bullet grazed his left hand.

4/20/22
ON THE SCENE
TMZ.com

Police also served a search warrant at A$AP's home Wednesday in L.A., busting out a battering ram to get through his front gate.

When cops wrapped up their search, they left Rocky's house with a box of potential evidence.

Remember, Rocky had been in Barbados living it up with his pregnant gf RiRi ... jet skiing and hanging with her family and friends.

Major reversal of fortune, though, the second he got back stateside.

'The Flash' Star Ezra Miller Arrested Again In Hawaii Second-Degree Assault

"The Flash" star Ezra Miller seems to be having lots of trouble in paradise ... getting arrested yet again in Hawaii.

According to Hawaii County police, the 29-year-old was arrested for second-degree assault ... after cops say they responded to an incident at a private residence in Pāhoa, Hawaii around 1 AM on Tuesday.

Cops say the "Fantastic Beasts" star got annoyed after being asked to leave a friend's home and was accused of throwing a chair that struck a 26-year-old female on the forehead ... leaving her with a half-inch cut.

As we've reported, this is not the first time Miller has gotten arrested in Hawaii. Miler was arrested for disorderly conduct last month after an incident at a bar ... when they allegedly lunged at a guy playing darts and took the mic from a woman doing karaoke.

MARCH 2022
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
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On top of that ... they were physically blocked from going into another bar on Hilo, just weeks prior ... things got so heated, cops had to come and cool everything down.

LOST IN DANCE
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More recently, Miller was spotted dancing oddly at a lounge in Hawaii, this month. Eyewitnesses told us, they was pretty much all over the place.

As far as this time goes, cops say the 26-year-old woman refused treatment for her injury. Ezra was later released ... but the investigation is reportedly ongoing.

LeBron James New Tory Lanez Album is 🔥 ... Big Plug Despite MTS Beef

TUNING INTO TORY
@kingjames / Instagram

LeBron James just gave a huge spotlight to somebody controversial in the rap world -- and that'd be one Tory Lanez ... who's embroiled in a legal fight with Megan Thee Stallion.

LBJ took to IG Saturday to do what he often does when he stumbles across some new tunes ... blasting it in the car and vibing out. In this case, he was playing TL's new album, 'Alone at the Prom,' and gave it a big endorsement ... showering Tory with compliments.

He captioned one of his Tory videos with, "MAN THIS BOY COLD AS HELL MAN!!! ALONE AT THE PROM IS 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥" Later in the clip, LeBron films himself, seemingly singing along to Tory's lyrics.

JULY 2020
EXITING THE VEHICLE
TMZ.com

Normally, this would be NBD -- like we said, LeBron does this all the time. The difference here ... Tory is very polarizing right now, but that doesn't seem to bother the King.

It's interesting ... LeBron is outspoken over just about everything these days, but he's been mum on the drama between Tory and Meg -- and now, he appears to have shown he's cool with Tory (or at the very least, his music) despite the allegation against him ... namely, that he shot MTS in the foot.

SURROUNDED BY POLICE
TMZ.com

The L.A. District Attorney has charged Tory with one count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and one count of carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm ... also claiming he caused great bodily injury as it relates to Meg. He's pled not guilty and maintained his innocence.

We've seen some people support Tory throughout all this -- and the guy continues to roll out music and even perform live ... regardless of the fact that this thing is going to trial.

Cowboys' Damontae Kazee Name-Dropped Dak, Zeke During Arrest ... Video Shows

UNDER ARREST

Dallas Cowboys safety Damontae Kazee told a cop he had been with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott hours before his DWI arrest ... saying he had partied with the two just before getting behind the wheel.

It's all in new police video, obtained by TMZ Sports, which reveals Kazee name-dropped his two superstar teammates after he was pulled over in the Dallas area back on Oct. 19 at around 3 a.m.

In the footage, a cop can be heard telling Kazee he had stopped him due to his failure to use a turn signal as well as some erratic driving.

Kazee -- who seemed to be slurring his words -- said "my bad" ... and then explained he had been with the Cowboys' quarterback and running back earlier in the evening.

"I was just with Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott and we were just having fun -- went out," Kazee told the cop.

The 28-year-old, who just signed with the Cowboys this offseason, told the officer he had "probably like three shots" while out -- adding that he, Prescott, Elliott and others were at a restaurant in downtown Dallas.

"Today we was just going out to eat," Kazee said, "because it's rookie night."

The cop then put Kazee through some field sobriety tests -- and you can see in the video, Kazee didn't appear to ace any of them.

Kazee seemed to struggle to count backwards and didn't walk cleanly in a straight line -- and he was eventually arrested and booked on a misdemeanor DWI charge.

Kazee addressed the situation with Dallas reporters a few days following the incident ... saying, "I apologized to my family, my teammates, my coaches and to the owner, who gave me a job."

"I'm happy the Lord helped me get out," he said, adding that he'd "deal with" any punishment the NFL levied on him over it all. "I didn't hit nobody, I didn’t hurt myself. Just thankful I’m here now."

Kazee has started nine games for Dallas this season, recording 27 tackles and one interception.

El Chapo Wife Gets 3 Years in Prison ... For Drug Trafficking

El Chapo's wife will see time behind bars -- but it'll be way less than her hubby's life sentence.

Emma Coronel Aispuro was sentenced to 3 years in prison Tuesday for her role in Chapo's drug empire -- significantly less time than what many people expected she'd get, which was somewhere in the ballpark of around 10 years, if not more.

Of course, she had prosecutors pushing for a fairly lenient sentence on account of her cooperation and plea deal -- but it was unclear if the judge would still go easy on her. Seems the court felt her crimes she pled guilty to weren't worth more than a few years in prison.

She'll also have 4 years of supervised release and a forfeiture judgment of $1,499,970 representing proceeds of and property gained by Aispuro as a result of the crimes.

As we reported ... Coronel Aispuro copped a plea deal earlier this year after getting busted for drug trafficking at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia. She pled guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana.

Her attorneys argued (apparently with some success) that El Chapo's spouse was not a ring leader of any sort, nor was she intricately involved in her husband's operation at a key level. They also claimed she only participated because she had no other choice.

Meanwhile, Chapo is living out the rest of his days behind bars ... hopefully sans any more escapes.

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