Trial for WNBA star Brittney Griner begins in Russian court

Moscow – American basketball star Brittney Griner went on trial Friday, 4 1/2 months after her arrest on charges of possessing cannabis oil while returning to play for a Russian team, in a case that unfolded amid tense relations between Moscow and Washington.

The Phoenix Mercury center and two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after police said she was carrying vape canisters with cannabis oil. She could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 1, 2022. Griner is set to go on trial in a Moscow-area court Friday.

Griner, 31, was escorted into the courtroom in the Moscow suburb of Khimki while handcuffed and wearing a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt. At a closed-door preliminary hearing Monday, her detention was extended for another six months, to Dec. 20, and her next court session was set for July 7.

Fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in the U.S., acquittals can be overturned.

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