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WNBA star Brittney Griner appears in Russian courtroom, criminal trial set for July 1

More than 4 months after she was arrested at a Moscow airport for hashish possession, a Russian courtroom has set the beginning date of the criminal trial of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner for July 1.

The Phoenix Mercury star was additionally ordered to stay in custody for the length of her criminal trial. She might face 10 years in jail if convicted on costs of large-scale transportation of medicine. Fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal circumstances are acquitted, and in contrast to in the U.S., acquittals could be overturned.

On Monday, the courtroom in the Moscow suburb of Khimki prolonged Griner’s detention for one other six months after she appeared for a preliminary listening to held behind closed doorways. Photos obtained by the AP confirmed her showing in handcuffs. Griner had beforehand been ordered to stay in pretrial detention till July 2.

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U.S. WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner arrives to a listening to on the Khimki Court, outdoors Moscow on June 27, 2022. –

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP through Getty Images


Griner’s detention and trial come at an awfully low level in Moscow-Washington relations. She was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport lower than per week earlier than Russia despatched troops into Ukraine, which aggravated already-high tensions with sweeping sanctions by the United States and Russia’s denunciation of U.S. weapon provides to Ukraine.

Amid the tensions, Griner’s supporters had taken a low profile in hopes of a quiet decision, till May, when the State Department reclassified her as wrongfully detained and shifted oversight of her case to its particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs – successfully the U.S. authorities’s chief negotiator.

That transfer has drawn further consideration to Griner’s case, with supporters encouraging a prisoner swap just like the one in April that introduced residence Marine veteran Trevor Reed in change for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy.

Russian information media have repeatedly raised hypothesis that she could possibly be swapped for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, nicknamed “The Merchant of Death,” who’s serving a 25-year sentence on conviction of conspiracy to kill U.S. residents and offering help to a terrorist group.

Russia has agitated for Bout’s launch for years. But the discrepancy between Griner’s case – she allegedly was discovered in possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil – and Bout’s world dealings in lethal weapons might make such a swap unpalatable to the U.S.

Others have advised that she could possibly be traded in tandem with Paul Whelan, a former Marine and safety director serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction that the United States has repeatedly described as a set-up.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, requested Sunday on CNN whether or not a joint swap of Griner and Whelan for Bout was being thought of, sidestepped the question.

“As a general proposition … I have got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home,” he stated. But “I can’t comment in any detail on what we’re doing, except to say this is an absolute priority.”

Any swap would apparently require Griner to first be convicted and sentenced, then apply for a presidential pardon, Maria Yarmush, a lawyer specializing in worldwide civil affairs, advised Kremlin-funded TV channel RT.

On Friday, the U.S. House accredited a bipartisan decision calling for Griner’s launch.

The resolution, launched by Arizona Rep. Greg Stanton, calls on Russia to “immediately release” the 31-year-old Griner, and asks U.S. officers to “raise the case” of Griner’s launch when speaking with Russia.

The Mercury applauded the decision, tweeting Saturday that “Stanton and many others are continuing to work with the White House, State Department and Brittney’s family to secure her safe return home.”

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