A 31-year-old US Olympic basketball gold medalist, Brittney Griner who plays for the Mercury Phoenix will be arriving at a court near Moscow where she will be trialed after Russian officials claimed she had cannabis oil in her luggage in February, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Griner was arrested on February 17 at a Moscow airport. She was accused by the Russian authorities of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance into the country which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Grinder is being kept in a detention center north of Moscow. Her detention has been extended for six months pending the trial’s outcome, according to her lawyer.
Jake Sullivan, the US nations security adviser said “Griner is wrongfully detained, unjustly detained and we have made that clear as an official determination of the US government.”
Griner trial is taking place at the Khimki city court, outside the Russian capital. Since today being Friday is her first trial, no verdict is expected.
Lately, there have been worries by Griner’s fans saying her trial might be used as a political pawn with respect to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Charge d’Affaires of the US embassy Elizabeth Rood also arrived at court on Friday for Griner’s hearing.
There are also worries that Griner’s detention has been postponed again and again and is causing public outrage not just from her fans but also from dozens of US organizations. Griner’s wife Cherelle, is urging the US president, Joe Biden to strike an exchange deal with Russian authorities to release Griner and bring her home safely as soon as possible.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said “The United States is actively trying to resolve WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia.”