Brittany Griner’s Trial Has Begun In Khimki City Court Russia

Brittany Griner has been detained in Russia since mid-February awaiting to either be returned to the United States or to stand trial for allegedly attempting to smuggle cannabis cartridges across international borders. Today, July 01, 2022, Griner’s trial began at Khimki City Court, which is just outside of Moscow.

The US Embassy and press are not allowed in the court proceedings, although some did manage to get photos of the professional basketball star as she entered the court room.

Brittany Griner is the starting center for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, and she was arrested on February 17, 2022, after Russian officials said a search of her luggage at airport security revealed vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis. Griner could face up to a decade in prison if she’s convicted. May 28, 2022, marked the 100th day of Griner’s detention in Russia, and the WNBA renewed call for her release at that time, and there was no indication as to whether or not she would be standing trial.

On June 14, 2022, it was revealed that Griner would be held in custody until at least July 3rd of 2022. The United States continued to consider Britney Griner to be wrongfully detained by Russia and officials claim that they are working on negotiating her release.

On Friday, June 25, 2022, The House passed a bipartisan resolution calling on the Russian government to immediately release Brittany. “Not a day goes by that we aren’t thinking of Brittany and working to get her home,” Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton of Arizona, who sponsored the resolution, said in a statement. -CNN “We will continue to push for her release and make sure that she is not forgotten.”

On Monday, June 27, 2022, Griner’s lawyers confirmed that the WNBA star would stand trial in a criminal court outside of Moscow, on Friday July 01, 2022.

After Friday’s hearing, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Rood said she spoke with Griner in the courtroom. She reported that Brittany was in good spirits and hopeful that the trial would work out in her favor.

In early May, the Biden administration declared Griner to be wrongfully detained by Russia’s government. The U.S. believes the Putin regime ordered Griner’s arrest so it could use her as leverage as Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The Kremlin insists the trial isn’t politically motivated. Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that he wouldn’t comment on an ongoing court case.

Russian state news agency Tass, which had a staff member in the courtroom, reported that the indictment alleges that before traveling to Russia in February, Griner bought two cartridges for personal use, which contained 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil.

A security inspection allegedly uncovered the cartridges in the basketball star’s luggage when she arrived on a flight from New York to Sheremetyevo International Airport in Khimki. Two customs agents, who were working at the airport when Griner’s bags were searched, were the first witnesses to testify for the prosecutions side. Griner’s lawyer, Alexander Boikov, told NPR that the Prosecutors will likely have four hearings before the defense gets their turn.

Boikov also reported on Griner’s state of mind at this point saying she is a bit worried because of the trial and the potential of a prison sentence.

The next hearing is slated for July 7, 2022. A Russian judge has ordered Griner to be detained for the length of her trial.

Griner’s situation has been ongoing and frustrating for her friends, family, teammates, coaches, and more importantly her wife! Brittany and her wife Cherelle tied the knot on June 18, 2018, and Saturday June 18, 2022, marked the couple’s 4th wedding anniversary. For weeks the couple had been waiting for that day to come with promises they would get a chance to speak to one another.

The WNBA star Brittney Griner tried to call her wife nearly a dozen times through the American embassy in Russia on Saturday June 18, 2022, but they never connected since the phone line at the embassy was not staffed, Brittany’s wife Cherelle was told.

The couple has not spoken by phone in the four months since Griner’s arrest in Russia. Saturday would have allowed them to change that, and the couple was very much anticipating the long-awaited phone call after getting Russian government approval. The day came and went without any contact, leaving Cherelle Griner hurt, confused, and wondering what the reason could be.

On Monday June 20, 2022, Cherelle learned from Griner’s lawyers that Brittney actually tried to call her 11 times over a period of several hours, dialing a number she’d been given at the U.S. embassy in Moscow. The couple had been told Griner’s call would be patched through to Cherelle Griner in Phoenix, but each time, the call went unanswered because the desk at the embassy where the phone rang was apparently unstaffed on Saturday.

For Cherelle Griner, the experience has exacerbated already simmering frustrations about the U.S. government’s response to her wife’s case. Though U.S. officials have repeatedly said they are working behind the scenes to get the two-time Olympic gold medalist home from Russia, she told the Associated Press she is “very pissed” about the run around, especially since the call had been on the schedule for two weeks and yet no one warned her during that time that it might be logistically impossible because weekend staffing issues.

The Phoenix Mercury started the 2022 WNBA season and Brittany Griner’s detention in Russia weighed heavily on the minds of players and coaches all over the league.  “Brittany Griner is our teammate, our friend, and our sister. She is a record-breaker, a gold-medalist, a wife, a daughter, a champion, a role model, an all-star, and so much more, ” the WNBA said in a statement early this month. The Phoenix Mercury has a 6-12 record without Griner this season and are currently 5th in the Western Conference with the WNBA Allstar game around the corner on July 10th, 2022. Griner has been inducted as an Honorary starter for the 2022 WNBA Allstar game as the league believes if not for her situation, she would be in the line-up anyway.

Griner’s arrest has also sparked call for a change in salaries to keep players from leaving the country during the winter months to play basketball overseas, which is what Griner was doing in Russia, as she is also the center for the BC UMMC Ekaterinburg.

The highest salary a player can earn in the WNBA is just over $221,000 for the regular season. Players have the option to stay in the U.S. and do other media work in the offseason, but some choose to go to other countries, like Russia, where they could earn around $1 million or more a season.

For a little background on Brittney, she was born Brittany Yevette Griner on October 18, 1990, and has played for the Phoenix Mercury of the Women’s National Basketball Association her entire professional career. Standing at 6’9” tall, Brittany played college basketball for the Baylor Lady Bears in Waco, Texas from 2009-2012. She is the only NCAA basketball player to both score 2,000 points and block 500 shots, male or female. In 2012, the three-time All-American was named the AP Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

In the 2013 WNBA Draft, the Phoenix Mercury selected Griner as the first overall pick. In Griner’s rookie season she was named a WNBA All-Star and would be a dominant defensive force in the league, averaging 3.0 blocks per game. In her debut on May 27, 2013, against the Chicago Sky, Griner equaled the WNBA dunk record, recording two dunks to equal Candace Parker’s career total. She thus became the third WNBA player to dunk and first to do so twice in one game, joining the aforementioned Parker, and Lisa Leslie, who was the first to dunk.


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Kimberly R. McClary

36-year-old Black female from Virginia.

Kimberly R. McClary has 48 posts and counting. See all posts by Kimberly R. McClary

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