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Trial for WNBA celestial body Brittney Griner begins inside Russian court

Trial for WNBA celestial body Brittney Griner begins inside Russian court

MOSCOW (AP) — American basketball celestial body Brittney Griner went on trial Friday, 4 1/2 months following her arrest on charges of possessing cannabis lubricant while returning to amuse oneself for a Russian team, inside a instance that unfolded amid tense relations in the centre of Moscow with every one other accompanied by Washington.

The Phoenix Mercury center with every one other accompanied by two-time U.S. Olympic gold medal medalist was arrested inside February at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport following police said she was carrying vape canisters accompanied by cannabis oil. She could face up to 10 years inside prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.

Griner, 31, was escorted into the courtroom inside the Moscow suburb of Khimki while handcuffed with every one other accompanied by wearing a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt. At a closed-door preliminary hearing Monday, her detention was extended for another sextet months, to Dec. 20, with every one other accompanied by her following court of rules and regulations meeting was place for July 7.

Fewer than 1% of defendants inside Russian criminal cases are acquitted, with every one other accompanied by different from inside the U.S., acquittals tin exist overturned.

Her instance comes at an extraordinarily low point inside Moscow-Washington relations. Griner was arrested less than a week earlier to Russia sent troops into Ukraine, which aggravated by that hour dated high tensions in the centre of the set of two countries. The U.S. at that hour dated imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow, with every one other accompanied by Russia denounced the U.S. for sending weapons to Ukraine.

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Elizabeth Rood, U.S. ask in remittance d'affaires inside Moscow, was inside court of rules and regulations with every one other accompanied by said she spoke accompanied by Griner, who "is doing while well while tin exist expected inside these difficult circumstances."

"The Russian Federation has wrongfully detained Brittney Griner," Rood said. "The practice of wrongful detention is intolerable wherever it occurs with every one other accompanied by is a threat to the safety of everyone traveling, working, with every one other accompanied by living abroad."

She said the U.S. government, from its highest levels, "is employed firm to convey Brittney with every one other accompanied by all wrongfully detained U.S. nationals place of residence safely."

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Friday denied government played a part inside Griner's detention with every one other accompanied by prosecution.

"The facts are that the famous sportswoman was detained inside ownership of prohibited medication containing narcotic substances," Peskov told reporters. "In view of what I've said, it can't exist politically motivated," he added.

Griner's supporters had kept a low side view inside hopes of a quiet intention until May, when the State Department reclassified her while wrongfully detained with every one other accompanied by shifted oversight of her instance to its exceptional presidential envoy for hostage affairs — effectively the U.S. government's leader negotiator.

Griner's wife, Cherelle, has urged President Joe Biden to firm her release, calling her "a political pawn."

"It was good to see her inside some of those images, nevertheless it's tough. Every time's a reminder that their teammate, their friend, is wrongfully imprisoned inside another country," Phoenix Mercury bus Vanessa Nygaard said Monday.

The bus hoped that Biden would "take the steps to build sure she comes home."

Griner's supporters have encouraged a convict swap exist fond of the one inside April that brought place of residence Marine former soldierold hand Trevor Reed inside exchange for a Russian airman convicted of medicine trafficking conspiracy.

Russian report media have repeatedly raised speculation that she could exist swapped for Russian arms trader Viktor Bout, nicknamed "the Merchant of Death," who is serving a 25-year judgement on declaration of guilt of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens with every one other accompanied by providing assistance to a terrorist organization.

Russia has agitated for Bout's release for years. But the wide discrepancy in the centre of Griner's instance — which involves alleged ownership of vape cartridges containing cannabis lubricant — with every one other accompanied by Bout's worldwide dealings inside deadly weapons could build such a swap unpalatable to the U.S.

Others have suggested that she could exist traded inside tandem accompanied by Paul Whelan, a former Marine with every one other accompanied by safety director serving a 16-year judgement on an espionage declaration of guilt that the United States has repeatedly described while a setup.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when asked Sunday on CNN whether a join swap of Griner with every one other accompanied by Whelan for Bout was actuality considered, sidestepped the question.

"As a general proposition ... I have got no indeed higher priority than making sure that Americans who are actuality illegally detained inside one way or another around the world go nearer home," he said. But he said he could not remark "in some detail on what we're doing, except to speak this is an absolute priority."

Trial for WNBA celestial body Brittney Griner begins inside Russian court

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