Griner’s trial in Moscow resumes amid calls for the United States to seek a settlement

MOSCOW – Imprisoned American basketball star Brittney Griner returns to a Russian court on Thursday amid a growing chorus of calls to Washington to do more to secure her release nearly five months after she was arrested on drug charges.

Griner was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after steamers with cannabis oil were allegedly found in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale drug transportation.

The trial of Phoenix star Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist began last week but the second session was postponed because no scheduled witnesses appeared. These delays are not uncommon in Russian courts and his arrest was allowed until December 20, suggesting the trial could take months.

It was unclear whether Griner would testify Thursday.

Although Griner’s supporters initially kept a low profile, calls for the United States to take action increased after the first day of the trial.


The State Department appointed her as illegally detained, transferring her case under the supervision of her special presidential envoy for hostage matters, effectively the government’s chief hostage negotiator.

However, Washington has not made public its strategy in the case and the US may have little influence with Moscow because of strong animosity due to Russia’s military actions in Ukraine. The White House said President Joe Biden called Griner’s wife on Wednesday to assure her that he is doing everything possible to get the athlete released as soon as possible. They spoke after Biden read a letter from Griner in which he said he feared he would never return home.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the most prominent black activists in the United States, this week asked Biden to hold a prayer meeting with Griner, saying, “Four months is too long for this to happen, and I hope the president acts on it. please come home. “


An organization called Win With Black Women sent Biden a letter stating that Secretary of State Antony Blinken “called Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife, assuring her and publicly declaring that Brittney’s safe return was a matter of personal priority; however, we are concerned that the rhetoric does not appear to be in line with the actions taken to date. We urge you to make a deal so that Brittney returns home quickly. “

Russian media have repeatedly speculated that Griner could be traded by Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, nicknamed “the death dealer,” who is serving a 25-year sentence in the United States for conspiring to kill American citizens and provide aid to a terrorist organization.

Russia has been agitated for years over Bout’s release. But the large discrepancy between Griner’s alleged offense and Bout’s global dealings in deadly weapons could make that exchange unpleasant for Washington.


Others suggested it could be changed along with Paul Whelan, a former director of Navy and Security who is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for an espionage conviction the United States has repeatedly described as a facility.

Russia has shown no signs of backing down.

“This is a serious crime, confirmed by indisputable evidence … Attempts to present the case as if the American had been illegally detained do not hold up,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev said on Wednesday.

“The law has been violated, and arguments about the innocent nature of Griner’s addiction, which, incidentally, is punishable in some U.S. states, are inadequate in this case,” he said.

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Griner’s trial in Moscow resumes amid calls for the United States to seek a settlement

Source link Griner’s trial in Moscow resumes amid calls for the United States to seek a settlement

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