Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

US basketball star Brittney Griner has gone on trial in a court on the outskirts of Moscow to hear drug charges that could see her serve up to 10 years in a Russian jail.

Griner, 31, was formally told at this first hearing that she was charged with intentionally importing narcotics into Russia. She spoke to say she understood the charges. The judge set the next hearing for July 7.

Griner, who has played regularly in Russia as well as in the U.S. Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), was arrested at a Moscow airport in February, allegedly with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.

The case takes place against a backdrop of high tension between Moscow and Washington over the conflict in Ukraine. US officials say Griner has been detained wrongfully.

Griner arrived at Khimki City Court, near Sheremetyevo Airport, in handcuffs shortly after noon local time, wearing a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt and sneakers without laces.

Three employees of the US embassy, ​​including deputy chief of mission Elizabeth Rood, were present in the courtroom.

Griner sat in the defendant’s cage with a plastic bag of cookies and a bottle of mineral water.

Handcuffed woman is led by court official.
US officials say the basketball player has been detained wrongfully in Russia.(Reuters: Evgenia Novozhenina)

Griner told a Reuters reporter she was finding detention hard because she could not speak Russian, and that she was unable to keep up her fitness because she could only do general exercises such as stretching.

Her lawyers declined to say how she planned to plead.

Lawyers say Griner in ‘good spirits’

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