Brittney Griner Trial Dates Set By Russian Court 4 Months After Arrest

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner, the Phoenix Mercury center and 2-time US Olympic gold medalist has been on trial at a Moscow court on charges of possessing cannabis. The order comes 4.5 months after she was arrested at a Russian airport as she returned to join a Russian basketball team.

Griner was detained in custody during her trial, beginning Friday. Brittney Griner faces a 10-year prison term if convicted of extensive possession and movement of drugs. The percentage of acquittals in criminal courts in Russia is very low, below 1% and acquittals can also be overturned.

The Moscow court hearing was held behind closed doors and Brittney Griner’s detention was extended for another 6 months to December 20. Griner, 31, briefly appeared, handcuffed and looked straight ahead unlike during the initial appearance in court where she appeared with her head covered in a hood.

Brittney Griner’s Arrest During A Time Of Heightened Tension Between Russia And The US Has Complicated Matters

Brittney Griner did not answer questions as she walked away from the courthouse. Her detention comes at the worst possible time as the Russian-US relationship is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

The player was detained at Sheremetyevo International Airport one week before Russian troops rolled into neighboring Ukraine and led to far-reaching sanctions by NATO countries.

Brittney Griner’s supporters have been discreet in the hope of a silent end to the issue. But the reclassification by the State Department terming her arrest as wrongful detention has meant that the case is now in the domain of the US government’s principal negotiator.

Brittney Griner’s wife has urged president Biden to help ensure her release saying that she was being victimized due to the political tension between the two countries.

Vanessa Nygaard the Phoenix Mercury women’s team coach said that it was good to see her again in the pictures, but described her detention as wrongful. He said that he was hopeful that the President would intervene to secure her release.