MOSCOW (AP) — Shackled and looking out cautious, WNBA star Brittney Griner was ordered to face trial Friday by a court docket close to Moscow on hashish possession costs, about 4 1/2 months after her arrest at an airport whereas returning to play for a Russian workforce.
The Phoenix Mercury heart and two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist additionally was ordered to stay in custody throughout her legal trial. Griner may face 10 years in jail if convicted on costs of large-scale transportation of medication. Fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian legal instances are acquitted, and in contrast to within the U.S., acquittals might be overturned.
At Monday’s closed-door preliminary listening to on the court docket within the Moscow suburb of Khimki, Griner’s detention was prolonged for an additional six months. Photographs obtained by The Related Press confirmed the 31-year-old in handcuffs and looking out straight forward, not like a earlier court docket look the place she stored her head down and coated with a hood.
Her detention and trial come at an awfully low level in Moscow-Washington relations. She was arrested at Sheremetyevo Worldwide Airport lower than per week earlier than Russia despatched troops into Ukraine, which aggravated already-high tensions with sweeping sanctions by america 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 Could, when the State Division 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.
Griner’s spouse, Cherelle, urged President Joe Biden in Could to safe her launch, calling her “a political pawn.”
Her supporters have inspired a prisoner swap just like the one in April that introduced house Marine veteran Trevor Reed in change for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy.
Russian information media have repeatedly raised hypothesis that she might be swapped for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, nicknamed “The Service provider of Loss of life,” who’s serving a 25-year sentence on conviction of conspiracy to kill U.S. residents and offering assist to a terrorist group.
Russia has agitated for Bout’s launch for years. However the discrepancy between Griner’s case — she allegedly was present in possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil — and Bout’s international dealings in lethal weapons may make such a swap unpalatable to the U.S.
Others have urged that she could be traded in tandem with Paul Whelan, a former Marine and safety director serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction that america 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 query.
“As a normal proposition … I’ve acquired no larger precedence than ensuring that Individuals who’re being illegally detained in a method or one other world wide come house,” he stated. However “I can’t remark in any element on what we’re doing, besides to say that is an absolute precedence.”