Russian court sets trial date in US basketball star’s drugs case
The Russian trial into drug smuggling accusations against American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner will begin on July 1, with a district court extending Griner’s detention for a further six months.
Griner appeared at Khimiki District Court just outside Moscow for a preliminary hearing on Monday, where the start date of her trial was confirmed, according to Russian news outlet RIA.
Wearing glasses and a gray T-shirt, the basketball star was seen being taken to the courtroom in handcuffs.
The 31-year-old was detained on drugs charges after banned hashish vape cartridges were found in her luggage upon arrival at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport back in February.
Should she be found guilty on narcotics charges, Griner could face up to 10 years in prison.
Griner had arrived in Russia to play for women’s basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason in her homeland.
The star usually plays for the Mercury Phoenix, where she is an eight-time WNBA All-Star and widely considered one of the best female basketball players of all time.
Last month, US State Department officials formally declared Griner as “wrongfully detained,” with accusations that Russia is using the two-time Olympic champion as a “political hostage” and supposedly as a pawn in a potential prisoner swap.
However, the Kremlin has refuted those accusations, with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov last week telling US media that Griner must face the law just like anyone else and should not be treated differently because of her status as a foreigner.