Brittney Griner Goes to Trial in Moscow Court Over Drug Charges

Brittney Griner, the American basketball star who has been held in a Russian prison due to the fact her February arrest above drug smuggling fees, appeared in a Moscow court docket for the start off of her demo on Friday.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17 soon after being accused of carrying cannabis oil in her baggage.

“Being adequately informed that the motion of narcotic medicines is not allowed… no later on than February 17, 2022 at an unspecified place beneath unspecified instances from an unknown individual [Griner] bought two cartridges for particular use, which contained .252 grams and .45 grams of hash oil, totaling .702 grams,” a prosecutor mentioned in court docket on Friday, according to CNN.

CNN noted that the “prosecution argues that Griner supposed to import the medicines into Russia’s territory and set the prohibited substances into a backpack and a suitcase,” and that cannabis oil “is topic to management in Russia and is categorised as a narcotic drug.”

The trial is scheduled to resume next Friday. Griner faces up to 10 many years in prison.

Griner, just one of the most adorned women’s basketball players in historical past who stars for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, has grow to be a symbol in the deteriorating relationship involving the United States and Russia. Her detention, coinciding with Russia’s internationally-condemned invasion of Ukraine, is widely witnessed as staying politically motivated.

In May well, the United States reclassified Griner as “wrongfully detained.”

There is growing speculation that Russia could be angling for a prisoner swap with the U.S., with The New York Moments reporting that the Kremlin appears to be linking Griner’s destiny with that of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms vendor at the moment serving a 25-year federal jail sentence in the United States.

That could put President Joe Biden in a diplomatic quandary, in accordance to the Times.

“The wide disparity amongst the cases of Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout highlights the serious issue President Biden would deal with if he sought a prisoner exchange to free Ms. Griner, the detained W.N.B.A. participant, from detention in Moscow. The Biden administration, unwilling to create an incentive for the arrest or abduction of People abroad, would be difficult-pressed to justify the release of a villainous determine like Mr. Bout,” the Occasions noted.

But the Biden administration is struggling with mounting force to protected Griner’s flexibility. Her friends in the sporting group have expressed assistance for her, though urging the U.S. to do a thing to end her detention.

LeBron James’s brand, Uninterrupted, issued a information previous thirty day period calling on Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to keep on to work for her release.

“For about 100 days, BG has confronted inhumane problems in a Russian jail and has been denied communications with her spouse and children and liked kinds,” the concept examine. “As a adorned Olympian and member of an elite world activity local community, BG’s detention will have to be fixed out of respect for the sanctity of all activity and for all People in america traveling internationally. It is crucial that the U.S. Governing administration quickly handle this human legal rights issue and do regardless of what is vital to return Brittney residence.”

Griner was arrested as she was returning to Russia to full her season with UMMC Ekaterinburg. Like a lot of American women’s basketball players, Griner has prolonged competed in Russia throughout the WNBA’s offseasons.

Though she was arrested in February, her detention was not made general public right until several weeks later.

“We are conscious of the condition with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in near make contact with with her, her legal representation in Russia, her relatives, her teams and the WNBA and NBA,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, explained after Russian authorities introduced her arrest in March. “As this is an ongoing legal issue, we are not ready to remark even more on the specifics of her scenario but can affirm that as we work to get her household, her psychological and actual physical overall health keep on being our major problem.”