Russia: Basketballer Brittney Griner given trial date for drugs charges

Brittney Griner

Russian authorities have set a trial date for detained US basketballer Brittney Griner.

The 31-year-old player, who is a part of the LGBTIQA+ communities, was detained in Mid-February after Russian authorities alleged she had been found with vape cartridges contained hashish oil.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist faces 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Griner appeared in a Russian court on Monday four and half months after she was arrested at an airport where she was returning to play on a Russian team. Shackled and looking weary, the Olympian was told she would have to remain in custody throughout her trial which was scheduled to begin on Friday.

Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa released a statement via Twitter saying regardless of the legal process the US government should be taking more action to bring the sports star home.

“Today’s hearing was administrative in nature and not on the merits,” Colas said. “That said, the fact remains that the U.S. Government has determined that Brittney Griner is wrongfully detained and being used as a political pawn. The negotiation for her immediate release regardless of the legal proceedings should remain a top priority and we expect @POTUS and @VP to do everything in their power, right now, to get a deal done to bring her home.”

Fewer than one per cent of Russian criminal trials end in an acquittal, and when an acquittal does occur prosecutors can call for it to be overturned. In May the US government classified Griner as being “wrongfully detailed” and shifted oversight of her case to the it’s special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.

There has been speculation that the US government may suggest a prisoner swap to bring Griner home.

Griner’s wife Cherelle has also made a personal plea to US President Joe Biden.

Graeme Watson 

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