“Include in barter”: Griner’s trial began

ONE System |

Britney Griner handcuffed in Russian prison (Reuters)

American basketball star Britney Griner appeared today (Friday) for a court hearing in Moscow, about four and a half months after she was arrested on charges of possession of cannabis at an airport while traveling to play for a Russian team. Griner was arrested in February at Moscow’s Shermetyevo airport when police said she was carrying cannabis oil tanks. In a closed preliminary hearing last Monday in the Khimki suburb of the Russian capital, Griner’s detention was extended for another six months, until December 20.

Pictures that came from there, including a rare close-up of the basketball player since her arrest on February 17, showed the 31-year-old handcuffed and without a face mask, in contrast to a previous appearance in court where she lowered her head and appeared covered in a hood. She refused to answer questions from English letters when led to the hearing.

Britney Griner (ONE System)Britney Griner (ONE System)

The arrest and trial of the athlete reach an extraordinary low point in the Moscow-Washington relationship. Griner was arrested less than a week before Russia sent troops to Ukraine, exacerbating the already high tensions between the two countries. The invasion led to sweeping sanctions imposed by the United States and Russia condemned the United States for sending weapons to Ukraine.

Amid tensions, Griner’s supporters kept a low profile in hopes of a quiet solution, until May, when the State Department reclassified her as illegally detained and handed over control of her case to its special presidential envoy for hostages – in fact the US prime minister is negotiating .

Gringer in Russian court (Reuters)Gringer in Russian court (Reuters)

Griner’s wife, Charles, Urged President Joe Biden to secure her release: “It has become a political pawn.” The former Griner coach in Phoenix, Vanessa Nigord, She said: “It was good to see her in some of these pictures, but it’s hard. “Every time her teammates receive a reminder that she is imprisoned in another country.”

As for the sentence she is due to receive, Russian media have repeatedly speculated that she may be included in an exchange deal with the Russian prisoner and arms dealer imprisoned in the US, Victor Bot, known as the “Death Dealer”, serving a 25-year prison sentence for conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and providing assistance to a terrorist organization.

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