Brittney Griner “preserving the religion” as Russian courtroom units date for subsequent listening to in drug smuggling trial

The trial towards American basketball star Brittney Griner started in a Moscow courtroom on Friday. The 31-year-old star WNBA participant is going through as much as 10 years in jail on drug smuggling fees.

Griner arrived on the Khimki Metropolis Courtroom, within the Moscow suburbs, in handcuffs and a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt, accompanied by her authorized workforce. The decide heard witness testimony throughout a three-hour session earlier than saying that the trial would resume on July 7.

Griner, who performs for a Russian basketball workforce exterior of the WNBA season, was arrested in February at Moscow’s worldwide airport just some days earlier than Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, sending relations with the US right into a tailspin.

WNBA basketball celebrity Brittney Griner arrives for a listening to on the Khimki Courtroom, exterior Moscow, July 1, 2022.


After an airport sniffer canine discovered vape cartridges in her baggage, authorities later mentioned they contained “a major quantity” of cannabis-derived oil. Marijuana is prohibited in Russia for leisure and medical use, and possession of it carries heavy penalties.

Griner has made no public statements since her arrest, and her place on whether or not she accepts or rejects the accusation stays unclear.

U.S. Cost d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood attended the courtroom session on Friday and advised reporters afterward that Griner was “preserving the religion.” Rood mentioned she had spoken with Griner and that the basketball participant was doing “in addition to could be anticipated.”

“The Russian Federation has wrongfully detained Brittney Griner,” Rood mentioned. “The follow of wrongful detention is unacceptable wherever it happens and is a menace to the security of everybody touring, working, and dwelling overseas.”
Rood added that the U.S. authorities was working on the “highest ranges” to “convey Brittney and all wrongfully detained U.S. nationals house safely.”

Most media retailers had been barred from getting into the courtroom on Friday, which the courtroom mentioned was per Griner’s request, in line with the Mediazona outlet, which covers justice in Russia.

Russia professional Jeff Hawn advised Newsplaneta Information this week that Russia was successfully holding Griner “hostage.”

“It is very clear that they didn’t must convey the severity of fees as they did,” he advised Newsplaneta Information senior overseas correspondent Charlie D’Agata. “They selected to try this in an effort to seize the U.S. consideration and threaten her with the worst potential end result.” 

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With relations between Moscow and Washington at a low not seen because the days of the Chilly Battle, Griner’s household and teammates had stored a low profile to keep away from drawing public consideration to her case, and doubtlessly making her an much more worthwhile asset for Russian propaganda. In Could, nevertheless, the U.S. State Division declared her wrongfully detained, and shifted oversight of her case to its particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs.

The Kremlin on Friday rejected the notion that Griner’s case was politically motivated.

“It can’t be politically motivated,” presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov mentioned in a briefing. “She was in possession of unlawful medicine containing narcotic substances.”

Griner’s spouse Cherelle advised the Reverend Al Sharpton on his radio present this week that she hadn’t heard her associate’s voice since she was detained, however she shared that Griner had conveyed to her by letters that she was “struggling and terrified.” 

“I will not allow them to break me,” Griner mentioned within the letters, in line with Cherelle. “I do know they’re attempting to, however I’ll do my finest to only maintain on till I can get house.”

“I hope that that is fast,” mentioned Cherelle, “as a result of I am not okay.”

Griner’s supporters have urged the Biden administration to facilitate a prisoner swap just like the one which noticed former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed launched in change for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year jail sentence for drug trafficking, in April.

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Russian media have speculated that Moscow may search to change Griner for infamous Russian arms seller Viktor Bout. The so-called “Service provider of Dying” is at present serving a 25-year jail sentence within the U.S. for conspiracy to kill People and aiding a terrorist group.

One other former U.S. Marine stays in custody in Russia: Paul Whelan is serving a 16-year jail sentence on espionage fees. The U.S. authorities has mentioned he’s getting used as a bargaining chip in potential negotiations between Moscow and Washington.

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