Brittney Griner's Trial Set for July 1 in Russia; WNBA Star Facing 10 Years in Prison

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJune 27, 2022

TOPSHOT - US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on June 27, 2022. - Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and WNBA champion, was detained at Moscow airport in February on charges of carrying in her luggage vape cartridges with cannabis oil, which could carry a 10-year prison sentence. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

WNBA star Brittney Griner has a Friday trial date in her ongoing case in Russia.

A judge set the date at a hearing Monday, according to Jim Heintz of the Associated Press. Griner has been detained in Russia since February after authorities allegedly found hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo International Airport.

She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the charges of large-scale transportation of drugs. Heintz noted less than 1 percent of people facing criminal charges in Russia are acquitted.

The U.S. Department of State categorized Griner as "wrongfully detained" in May.

"The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is among the highest priorities of the U.S government," the State Department said in a statement. "The Department of State has determined that the Russian Federation has wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner. ... The U.S. government will continue to undertake efforts to provide appropriate support to Ms. Griner."

Despite efforts made to gain her release, it's unlikely Griner will be able to leave Russia anytime soon. The court extended her detention for another six months Monday.

A prisoner exchange has been speculated about publicly, but the AP report notes that would likely require Griner to be convicted of the crime and then receive a presidential pardon. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined to comment on any potential exchange.

“As a general proposition ... I have got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home,” Blinken said Sunday on CNN. But “I can’t comment in any detail on what we’re doing, except to say this is an absolute priority.”

Griner has received an outpouring of support stateside amid her detention. The WNBA named her an honorary All-Star for the 2022 season this month, and several stars have spoken out to call for her release.