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WNBA's Brittney Griner goes on trial inside Russian court

WNBA's Brittney Griner goes on trial 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 has unfolded amid tense relations in the centre of Moscow with every one other accompanied by Washington.

The initial meeting of the trial, which was adjourned until July 7, offered the most large condition interplay in the centre of Griner with every one other accompanied by reporters since 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 International Airport.

Griner, 31, was escorted into the courtroom inside the capital's suburb of Khimki while handcuffed, carrying a aqua bottle with every one other accompanied by what appeared to exist a magazine, with every one other accompanied by wearing a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt.

Police have said she was carrying vape canisters accompanied by cannabis lubricant when detained at the airport. She could face up to 10 years inside prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.

The state-owned Tass report agency quoted Griner while saying inside court of rules and regulations that she understood the charges opposed to her. Asked by the judge if she wanted to enter a plea, Griner responded, "At this moment, no, your honor. At a subsequent date," according to Mediazona, an self-governing report location known for its large coverage of high-profile court of rules and regulations cases.

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

Two witnesses were questioned by the prosecution: an airfield customs official, who spoke inside not shut court, with every one other accompanied by an unidentified observer inside a closed session. according to the condition report agency RIA-Novosti. The trial was at that hour dated adjourned, it said, when set of two other witnesses did not show up.

Alexander Boykov, an attorney for Griner, said external outside court of rules and regulations that he did not want to remark "on the specifics of the instance with every one other accompanied by on the charges" since it was excessively early to do so.

Boykov too told RIA-Novosti that she has been exercising with every one other accompanied by taking walks inside the detention area. The Russian website Business FM said that Griner, who smiled at times at reporters, said she wishes she could labour not here additional with every one other accompanied by that she was struggling since she doesn't comprehend Russian. Besides the WNBA's Mercury, she played inside Russia for UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Elizabeth Rood, deputy leader of task at the U.S. Embassy 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."

At a closed-door preliminary hearing Monday, Griner's detention was extended for another sextet months, to Dec. 20.

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.

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.

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 down 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 U.S. has repeatedly described while a setup.

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Andrew Katell contributed from New York.

WNBA's Brittney Griner goes on trial inside Russian court

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