WNBA star Brittney Griner has been in a Russian prison for over four months after being detained at a Moscow airport in February for allegedly carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil, a marijuana concentrate.
This is a serious offense in Russia, with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. That has sparked Griner’s supporters to call for the U.S government to intervene urgently and cut a deal with Russia to return her to the United States.
Reports that have emerged on Monday morning indicate that the U.S government may need to act quicker than anticipated.
According to the Associated Press, a Russian court has set the start date for Griner’s criminal trial, which is set to begin on July 1.
On top of that, Griner’s detention in Russia was also extended for six months, the duration of her trial period, which is surely crushing news for those hoping that she would be released any time soon.
She had previously seen her detention date pushed back until July 2, but it now appears that she will remain in Russia much longer.
Urgency for the involvement from the U.S government may be at an all-time high, as AP also reported that less than one percent of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, almost certainly predicting a guilty verdict for Griner (seen above in 2019 with the Phoenix Mercury).
Relying on any sort of diplomacy between Russia and the United States to get Griner sent home may be the only way for her eventual return to the United States. And this comes at a time when the relationship between the two countries is at its worst since the Cold War, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It will only be more difficult to bring Griner back to the United States once Russia has a guilty verdict against her. We can only hope for Griner’s sake that the United States acts urgently to cut a deal with Russia for her return.
[The Associated Press; photo from USA Today Sports]