The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Brittney Griner’s Trial in Russia to Begin This Week

Brittney Griner detained in Russia

The trial of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner is scheduled to start this week, her lawyer said Monday.

Griner’s lawyer, Aleksandr Boikov, said she will stay detained until her trial ends, The New York Times reports.

The lesbian Olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion, 31, did not speak at the court hearing Monday in the Moscow suburb of Khimik.

Boikov told the Times that Griner’s trial could take up to two months. He added that Griner hasn’t made any complaints about her time in the detention center where she’d been kept.

Griner was arrested on February 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow after authorities allegedly found vape cartridges containing residue of hashish oil in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison.

She was in Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA off-season.

In May, the State Department transferred Griner’s case to the presidential envoy for hostage affairs and reclassified her status as wrongfully detained.

Some have speculated that Griner is being used by Russia to gain some leverage after continued deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russia, especially after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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During an exclusive interview with NBC News on Monday, the spokesman for Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, denied the State Department's allegation that Griner is a hostage.

“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.”

He says she's no different than “hundreds and hundreds of Russian citizens that were sentenced for carrying hashish.”

“Why should we make an exemption for a foreign citizen?" he added.

A court in Russia extended Griner's detention for an additional 18 days earlier this month.

Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has called on the Biden administration to do more to bring about her release.

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