Russian court sets July 1 as trial date for Brittney Griner


A Russian court has ruled that the trial of American basketball star Brittney Griner will begin on Friday and that she will remain in custody until its completion, her lawyer, Aleksandr Boikov, said on Monday.

Ms Griner appeared in Khimki City Court, near Moscow, for a preliminary hearing. She did not speak after her court appearance, according to video from outside the courtroom released by the official TASS news agency.

The WNBA star, who had played for a Russian team in the offseason, was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17, entrancing the fate of an American citizen in the confrontation between Russia and the West over from Ukraine.

Russian officials said they found vaping cartridges bearing traces of hash oil in Ms Griner’s luggage when she passed through a security checkpoint. The drug charges against her carry a sentence of up to 10 years in a penal colony.

Boikov said he expected the trial to take up to two months, depending on the court’s workload. He also said Ms Griner feels fine and has no complaints about her treatment at the remand center.

“It’s hot in Moscow, so she feels it too, especially when she’s being transported to court,” Boikov said in a phone interview.

Ms. Griner, a seven-time WNBA All-Star center for the Phoenix Mercury and a key figure on two Olympic champion teams, was detained a week before the invasion of Ukraine, but Russian officials only revealed her arrest. after the start of the war. .

News of her arrest came as Russian-American relations hit one low point after another, and her detention sparked fears that she could become a bargaining chip, perhaps to be exchanged for Russians from high level held by the United States. In recent years, US officials have accused Russia of detaining and convicting US citizens on false charges.

Last week, dozens of organizations representing people of color, women and LGBTQ voters called on President Biden to reach a deal for his release.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov said in an interview with MSNBC this month that Ms. Griner was not being held hostage and was being held accountable for breaking Russian law.

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