Britney Griner: US basketball star to face Russian court on charges of drug smuggling

Griner, 31 A Phoenix Mercury player playing in Russia during the WNBA off-season was arrested on February 17 at a Moscow airport, a week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Griner’s supporters and US officials say she has been wrongfully detained and are calling for her release as fears grow that she is being used as a political pawn amid growing tensions between Russia and the US.

At trial, the prosecutor accused Griner of smuggling less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.

“Knowing enough that the movement of narcotic drugs is not allowed … no later than 17 February 2022 at an unspecified location under unspecified circumstances from an unidentified person [Griner] I bought two cartridges for personal use, which contained 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil, a total of 0.702 grams,” the prosecutor said, a TASS correspondent reports in the hall of the Khimki city court.

The prosecution alleges that Griner intended to smuggle drugs into Russia and put banned substances in a backpack and suitcase, TASS reports. Cannabis oil is subject to control in Russia and is classified as a narcotic drug.

The second hearing will take place on July 7.

Greiner escorted by a security guard before a July 1 court hearing.

Some have speculated that Griner could be released in a prisoner exchange, but US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken declined to comment over the weekend.

Griner’s lawyers Alexander Boikov and Maria Blagovolina said on Friday they were not aware of any plans to exchange Griner for a Russian prisoner held in the US.

“Unfortunately, we have no information about this,” the lawyers said at an impromptu press conference.

According to lawyers, during the court session, the customs officer of Sheremetyevo Airport was one of two witnesses. He was interrogated about the circumstances of Griner’s detention and body search, the lawyers said, adding that they could not disclose any information that he disclosed during his testimony.

When asked why Griner refused to speak about the charges in court, the lawyers replied: “She has the right to do it later.

It has been 130 days since WNBA star Britney Griner was detained in Russia and her trial is about to begin.  Her wife wants US authorities to do more to bring her home

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Roode, who attended Friday’s hearing, reiterated that Griner was “wrongfully detained,” adding that “the practice of unlawful detention is unacceptable wherever it occurs and poses a threat to the safety of everyone who travels, works and living abroad.

She spoke to Griner in the courtroom. “She is doing well, as you would expect under these difficult circumstances, and she asked me to convey that she is in good spirits and keeps the faith,” Rude said.

“The US government at the highest level is working hard to bring Britney and all illegally detained US citizens home,” she added.

Griner’s detention, which has been repeatedly extended, has sparked a wave of support from dozens of organizations in the US that have joined Griner’s wife Cherell in urging President Joe Biden to strike a swap deal with Russian authorities to free Griner and bring her home. safe as soon as possible.

Speaking on CNN Thursday, Cherell Griner urged US officials to do more to ensure security. release of her wife.

“It’s really very difficult. This is not a situation where rhetoric matches action,” she said. “Unfortunately, I have to push people to make sure that what they say to me also matches their actions, and that’s why it was the hardest thing to balance because I can’t give up. It’s been over 130 days and BG hasn’t returned yet. “

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the case was not politically motivated during a conference call with reporters on Friday.

Although the Kremlin is unable to comment on the course of the trial, Peskov said, he stressed that Griner was detained after transporting “illegal drugs containing narcotic substances”, which is prosecuted under Russian law.

“Based on what I said, her arrest cannot be politically motivated,” Peskov added.

Last week, Griner was named an honorary member of the WNBA All-Star Game due July 10 in Chicago. Her detention continues to be “tough on our team,” Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard told reporters ahead of the team’s game Monday against the Indiana Fever.

She expressed her hope that Griner would return home soon and that President Biden would “take steps to ensure her return home.”

Kylie Atwood of CNN contributed to this report.