Brittney Griner Goes to Trial in Moscow Court docket Over Drug Fees


Brittney Griner, the American basketball star who has been held in a Russian jail since her February arrest over drug smuggling charges, appeared in a Moscow court docket for the beginning of her trial on Friday.

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

“Being sufficiently conscious that the motion of narcotic medication just isn’t allowed… no later than February 17, 2022 at an unspecified location underneath unspecified circumstances from an unidentified particular person [Griner] purchased two cartridges for private use, which contained 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil, totaling 0.702 grams,” a prosecutor stated in court docket on Friday, according to CNN.

CNN reported that the “prosecution argues that Griner meant to import the medication into Russia’s territory and put the prohibited substances right into a backpack and a suitcase,” and that hashish oil “is topic to manage in Russia and is assessed as a narcotic drug.”

The trial is scheduled to renew subsequent Friday. Griner faces as much as 10 years in jail.

Griner, probably the most embellished ladies’s basketball gamers in historical past who stars for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, has grow to be a logo within the deteriorating relationship between america and Russia. Her detention, coinciding with Russia’s internationally-condemned invasion of Ukraine, is broadly seen as being politically motivated.

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

There’s rising hypothesis that Russia may very well be angling for a prisoner swap with the U.S., with The New York Times reporting that the Kremlin seems to be linking Griner’s destiny with that of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms seller at present serving a 25-year federal jail sentence in america.

That might put President Joe Biden in a diplomatic quandary, in line with the Occasions.

“The huge disparity between the instances of Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout highlights the intense issue President Biden would face if he sought a prisoner change to free Ms. Griner, the detained W.N.B.A. participant, from detention in Moscow. The Biden administration, reluctant to create an incentive for the arrest or abduction of People overseas, can be hard-pressed to justify the discharge of a villainous determine like Mr. Bout,” the Occasions reported.

However the Biden administration is going through mounting stress to safe Griner’s freedom. Her peers in the sporting community have expressed help for her, whereas urging the U.S. to do one thing to finish her detention.

LeBron James’s model, Uninterrupted, issued a message final month calling on Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to proceed to work for her launch.

“For over 100 days, BG has confronted inhumane situations in a Russian jail and has been denied communications together with her household and family members,” the message learn. “As a embellished Olympian and member of an elite international sport neighborhood, BG’s detention have to be resolved out of respect for the sanctity of all sport and for all People touring internationally. It’s crucial that the U.S. Authorities instantly deal with this human rights problem and do no matter is important to return Brittney dwelling.”

Griner was arrested as she was returning to Russia to finish her season with UMMC Ekaterinburg. Like many American ladies’s basketball gamers, Griner has lengthy competed in Russia throughout the WNBA’s offseasons.

Though she was arrested in February, her detention was not made public till a number of weeks later.

“We’re conscious of the scenario with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in shut contact together with her, her authorized illustration in Russia, her household, her groups and the WNBA and NBA,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, stated after Russian authorities introduced her arrest in March. “As that is an ongoing authorized matter, we’re not in a position to remark additional on the specifics of her case however can verify that as we work to get her dwelling, her psychological and bodily well being stay our main concern.”

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