WNBA Star Brittney Griner Finally Ordered to Trial this Friday in Russia

WNBA Star Brittney Griner Finally Ordered to Trial this Friday in Russia
✍️ Written by
Kuthula Magubane
🗓 Updated
May 19th 2023

After being held for months without a trial, WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner was ordered on Monday to stand trial by a court near Moscow for cannabis possession charges. This trial date is set four and half months after her arrest at a Russian airport while returning to play in the Russian Women's Basketball league.

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Facing conviction on large-scale charges for the transportation of “drugs”, Britnney Griner is potentially looking at a 10 year sentence. The 2x American Olympic gold medal winner has been ordered to remain in custody for the duration of her trial, which will commence this Friday the 1st of July.

The advantage in this dire situation is that in Russia acquittals can be overturned unlike in the U.S  where they cannot, but it’s also very important to note that less than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted.

At Monday’s closed-door preliminary hearing at the court in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, Griner’s detention was extended for another six months, to Dec. 20.

Griner's supporters kept a safe distance in hopes of a swift and discreet resolution, until May, when the State Department reclassified her as wrongfully detained and shifted oversight of her case to its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs — effectively the U.S. government’s chief negotiator.

Phoenix Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard spoke at a press conference saying, “It was good to see her in some of those images, but it’s tough. Every time’s a reminder that their teammate, their friend, is wrongfully imprisoned in another country. It’s tough on our team. It is good to see her. See how she’s doing? I don’t know if she’s doing ok.”

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