Russian Court Says Brittney Griner’s Trial Will Begin on Friday


A Russian court said the trial for the U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner will begin on Friday and she will remain in custody until it ends, her lawyer, Aleksandr Boikov, said on Monday.

Ms. Griner appeared in the Khimki city court near Moscow for a preliminary hearing. She did not speak following her court appearance, according to a video from outside the courtroom that was posted by the official state news agency TASS.

The W.N.B.A. star, who had played for a Russian team during the off-season, was detained in a Moscow airport on Feb. 17, ensnaring a U.S. citizen’s fate in the confrontation between Russia and the west over Ukraine.

Russian officials said they had found vape cartridges bearing traces of hash oil in Ms. Griner’s luggage when she passed through a security checkpoint. The drug charges levied against her carries a sentence of up to 10 years in a penal colony.

Mr. Boikov said that he expected the trial to take up to two months, depending on the court’s workload. He also said Ms. Griner feels well and has no complaints about her treatment in the pretrial detention center.

“It is hot in Moscow, so she feels that too, especially while being transported to the court,” Mr. Boikov said in a phone interview.

Ms. Griner, a seven-time W.N.B.A. All-Star center for the Phoenix Mercury and a key figure in two champion Olympic teams, was detained a week before the invasion of Ukraine, but Russian officials did not reveal her arrest until after the war begun.

Word of her arrest came when Russia-U.S. relations were hitting one low point after another, and her detention raised fears that she could become a bargaining chip, perhaps to be exchanged for high-profile Russians in U.S. custody. In recent years, U.S. officials have accused Russia of detaining and sentencing American citizens on trumped-up charges.

Last week, dozens of organizations representing people of color, women and L.G.B.T.Q. voters called on President Biden to strike a deal for her release.

Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, said in an interview with MSNBC this month that Ms. Griner was not being held hostage and was being held accountable for violating Russian law.



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