MOSCOW – American basketball star Brittney Griner appeared in a Moscow-area court for trial Friday, about 4 1/2 months after she was arrested on cannabis possession charges at an airport while traveling to play for a Russian team.
Griner was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Police said she was carrying vape canisters with cannabis oil. The Phoenix Mercury center and two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.
Fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in the U.S., acquittals can be overturned.
At a closed-door preliminary hearing Monday in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, Griner’s detention was extended for another six months, to Dec. 20.
The athlete’s detention and trial come at an extraordinarily low point in Moscow-Washington relations. Griner was arrested less than a week before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, which aggravated already high tensions between the two countries.
The invasion led to sweeping sanctions imposed by the United States, and Russia denounced the U.S. for sending weapons to Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday denied politics played a role in Griner’s detention and prosecution. .
“The facts are that the famous athlete was detained in possession of prohibited medication containing narcotic substances,” Peskov told reporters. “In view of what I’ve said, it can’t be politically motivated,” he added.
“The facts are that the famous athlete was detained in possession of prohibited medication containing narcotic substances,” Peskov told reporters. “In view of what I’ve said, it can’t be politically motivated,” he added.[ad_2]