Brittney Griner’s case in Russia is making progress—though not in the direction many have called for since her detainment. A Russian court determined the WNBA player’s trial will begin on July 1, according to AP News. The news broke on Monday as photos of a shackled Brittney started to make their rounds.
The photos show Brittney arriving at her hearing at Khimki Court near Moscow on Monday (June 27). She wore a dark grey t-shirt, locs with apparent new growth, and some thin round glasses. Officers pulled her wrists together using handcuffs.
On Monday, the court determined Brittney will remain behind bars for the duration of the trial—and the next six months. And a statistic presented by AP gives little hope as “fewer than 1%” of defendants in Russia get an acquittal. Not only that but if the court acquits Brittney, there’s a possibility the court can overturn the decision.
Brittney Arrested For Vape Cartridges Containing Cannabis Oil
As previously reported, Brittney was arrested nearly four-and-a-half months ago at a Moscow airport. Authorities say they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage while she entered the county via the Sheremetyevo Airport. The Phoenix Mercury center player was returning to the country from New York to play for a Russian team.
It is a common practice among American athletes to travel to international countries to play competitive sports during their U.S. off-season. Brittney had reportedly been following this practice since 2015.
Still, her detainment proved to be serious. Brittney faces up to 10 years in prison if the court convicts her of “large-scale transportation of drugs.” In March, she pled not guilty to the drug trafficking charges.
Russian President Spokesperson Says Brittney Is Not A Hostage
Her detainment reportedly took place one week before Russia invaded Ukraine with troops. However, this didn’t become common knowledge until later. The timing couldn’t have been worse, as the relationship between the U.S. and Russia soured over the invasion and imposed sanctions.
In May, the Biden administration determined Russian authorities had “wrongfully detained” Brittney. As a result, the administration moved her case to a state department that negotiates the release of hostages and wrongfully detained Americans.
But a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the administration’s claim that Brittney is a hostage.
“She violated Russian law, and now she’s being prosecuted. It’s not about being a hostage,” Dmitry Peskov told NBC News. “There are lots of American citizens here. They’re enjoying their freedoms…but you have to obey the laws.”
Meanwhile, Brittney’s wife recently said the pair didn’t celebrate their fourth anniversary. Even from behind bars, the two had at least planned to enjoy a phone call. However, Cherelle’s calls went unanswered.
Despite the two-week notice, the U.S. Embassy in Russia didn’t staff anyone for the day of the call. They were in charge of connecting the wives. Similarly, Brittney tried to contact Charelle almost a dozen times with no response.
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