Brittney Griner looks TERRIFIED as she appears in Russian court for drug possession charges
The photos of US basketball star Brittney Griner, who is in detention in Russia on drug charges, have been released where Brittney appeared uneased as she was led into a preliminary hearing at a court in the Moscow suburb of Khimki on Monday, June 27. Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion, was held at the airport in Moscow in February after it was claimed that she had vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
The Phoenix Mercury player, who appeared at the brief preliminary hearing more than four months after her detention, was charged with cocaine smuggling and advised that a sentence of up to 10 years was likely. Griner's custody was prolonged by a Khimki, a suburb of Moscow, court for an additional six months. She appeared in photos obtained by the AP while being restrained. Until July 2, Griner was supposed to stay in pre-trial detention.
At the start of the WNBA training camp, Griner, 31, was at the airport waiting to catch a flight back to Phoenix. She, like other WNBA players, has spent several off-seasons playing professionally in Russia because of the higher salaries there. Griner's case has gained more attention as a result of that action, with advocates calling for a similar prisoner exchange to the one that sent Marine veteran Trevor Reed home in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of a drug trafficking conspiracy in April. Russian news outlets have frequently suggested that Griner could be exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, also known as ‘The Merchant of Death’ who is currently serving a 25-year term after being found guilty of conspiring to assassinate US Americans and giving support to a terrorist group.
For years, Russia has pushed for Bout's release. However, the disparity between Griner's case, in which vape cartridges allegedly containing cannabis oil were found, and Bout's international sales of lethal weapons may make such a trade intolerable to the US. Others have suggested that Griner could be traded in tandem with Paul Whelan, a former Marine and security director serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction that the US has repeatedly described as a set-up.
The Phoenix Mercury center and two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist also was ordered to remain in custody for the duration of her criminal trial. https://t.co/rJPlGJijuA— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) June 28, 2022
US President Joe Biden's press secretary stated last month that tensions with the Kremlin present difficulties in any attempts to negotiate Griner's release. According to AP, in an interview on Sunday, June 26, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated, “I have got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home. I can’t comment in any detail on what we’re doing, except to say this is an absolute priority.” The WNBA, which announced Griner would be a ceremonial All-Star in 2022 has also said it is working to bring Griner home.