Brittney Griner has received a start date for her upcoming cannabis possession trial in Russia.
The WNBA star, who was arrested at a Moscow airport for alleged cannabis possession in February, will stand trial on July 1. If convicted, she faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Griner attended court on Monday, wearing a gray T-shirt and glasses, according to a video published by ABC News. She was handcuffed and surrounded by guards.
“It was good to see her in some of those images, but it’s tough. Every time’s a reminder that their teammate, their friend, is wrongfully imprisoned in another country,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said. “It’s tough on our team. It is good to see her. See how she’s doing? I don’t know if she’s doing OK.”
Since her arrest, Griner’s supporters have been vocal about their belief that Griner is being used as a political pawn amid the ongoing Ukraine/Russia conflict.
Dozens of organizations — including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, the National Urban League, the National Women’s Law Center and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association — penned a letter addressed to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, urging them to fight harder for Griner’s release.
“We join Brittney’s family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones in deep appreciation of your Administration’s ongoing efforts to secure her freedom,” the organizations wrote. “The U.S. Government has acknowledged that Brittney is essentially a political pawn in classifying her as wrongfully detained. While these have been critically important measures, we now urge you to make a deal to get Brittney back home to America immediately and safely.”
Speaking to NBC News’ Keir Simmons, Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov indicated that the Russian government would not be making any exceptions for Griner.
“She violated Russian law, and now she’s being prosecuted,” Peskov said. “It’s not about being a hostage. There are lots of American citizens here. They’re enjoying their freedoms … but you have to obey the laws.”