WNBA star Brittney Griner arrived in a Moscow court today to begin her trial on drug charges after being imprisoned without bail since February. It began and then was adjourned until July 7th, RT reports. So far, the prosecutor has witnesses and sniffer dogs. She has not yet entered a plea. That comes later in Russian courts.
Legal experts said her trial was all but certain to end in a conviction despite the insistence in the United States that she be released.
The State Department and the White House have protested her treatment, now officially categorized as “wrongful detention,” during a fraught period for U.S.-Russian relations, reports The New York Times.
“Brittney has been classified as wrongfully detained since April 29, which means that the U.S. government has determined she is being used as a political pawn and as a result, is engaging in negotiations for her release, regardless of the legal process,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said Wednesday. “As such, our expectation — Brittney’s family included — remains that President Biden get a deal done to bring her home.”
The New York Times is reporting that Russia hints at linking Griner’s case to Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States.
He is known as the “Merchant of Death.” Because of the disparity between the alleged charges against Griner — possession of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil and Bout’s crimes of selling arms to that intent on killing Americans — the Biden administration, is reluctant to create an incentive for the arrest or abduction of Americans abroad, may be hard-pressed to justify a swap with Bout.
If they don’t, Griner’s life is over. Right now, we’re selling arms to kill Russians. Make the trade, Joe. What do you think?