Brittney Griner: US Olympic basketball star appears in Russian court on drug charges as trial date set | world news

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American basketball star Brittney Griner was sentenced to stand trial in Russia on Friday for possession of cannabis.

The two-time Gold Olympian and Phoenix Mercury star, 31, appeared in a brief hearing on Monday more than four months after she was arrested at a Moscow airport where she was allegedly carrying several canisters of cannabis oil.

She faces 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale drug transport.

Less than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted and acquittals can be overturned.

At Monday’s closed-door preliminary hearing in the court in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, Griner’s detention was extended for at least six months.

Photographs of Griner being escorted to the courtroom show the star in handcuffs.

She was arrested at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow less than a week before Russia sent troops to Ukraine, straining tensions between the United States and Russia.

US officials said Griner is “wrongfully detained”.

She was at the airport to board a flight back to Phoenix at the start of WNBA training camp.

Photo: AP
Image:
Photo: AP
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Griner, like other WNBA players, spent several off-seasons playing professionally in Russia due to the higher salaries.

Amid the tensions, Griner supporters had kept a low profile in hopes of a quiet resolution, until May when the US State Department reclassified her as wrongfully detained and transferred supervision of her case to his special presidential envoy for hostage affairs – effectively the head of the US government. negotiator.

The move drew additional attention to Griner’s case, with supporters encouraging a prisoner swap like the one in April that brought home Navy veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of conspiracy to drug traffic.

Last month, US President Joe Biden’s press secretary said the tension with the Kremlin presented challenges in any attempt to negotiate Griner’s release.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said he had “no higher priority than making sure Americans who are unlawfully detained in one way or another around the world get home.”

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