Russian Khimki — US basketball star Brittney Griner was tried in court on the outskirts of Moscow on Friday and heard drug charges that could serve him in a Russian prison for up to 10 years.
At this first hearing, 31-year-old Greener was formally indicted for her deliberate import of drugs into Russia. She said she understood her accusations. The judge has set up the next hearing on July 7.
Greener, who regularly plays for Russia and the American Women’s Basketball Association (WNBA), was arrested in February at an airport in Moscow with an arc cartridge containing hashish oil in his luggage.
The incident arose against the heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington over the conflict in Ukraine. US officials say Greener was illegally detained.
After noon, Greener arrived at the Khimki City Court near Sheremetyevo International Airport, wearing a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt and shoelaceless sneakers.
The court was attended by three employees of the US Embassy, including Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Ruud. Greener sat in the defendant’s cage with a plastic bag of cookies and a bottle of mineral water.
Grinner told reporters at Reuters that he couldn’t maintain his fitness because he couldn’t speak Russian and was difficult to detain, and he could only do general exercise such as stretching.
Her lawyer did not state how she intended to defend.
“I’m a little worried because she’ll be going to trial and judgment in the near future, but she’s a tough woman. I think she’ll do something about it,” lawyer Alexander Boykov said after the hearing.
Mr Ludo said the United States is working very hard to bring Greener home.
When asked about the incident, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied it was a political motive.
“I can only manipulate with known facts. The facts show that prominent athletes were detained with illegal drugs, including drugs. There is an article in Russian law that provides for punishment for such crimes.” He told reporters. “Only the court can pass the verdict.”
US officials and many athletes are calling for the release of Greener (or “BG”), known to basketball fans.
Some have expressed concern that Moscow could use two Olympic gold medalists to negotiate the release of prominent Russians under US control.
Phoenix Mercury’s center, Greener, like other US players, played for the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League UMMC Yekaterinburg to increase WNBA off-season income.
Some have left the Russian League since Grinner’s detention and Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
The U.S. government has warned citizens of their trip to Russia in the light of “potential harassment of U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that “it is not a high priority” to “illegal detention” of Greener and other Americans abroad.