WNBA Star Brittney Griner Faces 10 Years In Russian Cannabis Possession Trial
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WNBA star Brittney Griner could face 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of large-scale transportation of drugs.
Back in February, the Phoenix Mercury basketball player was arrested at a Russian airport after Russian police allegedly found cannabis oil cartridges in her luggage.
The 31-year-old has remained in Russian custody ever since and will continue to do so for the remainder of the trial.
Today (27 June), the two-time US Olympic gold medallist was seen making her first court appearance, where she was ordered to stand trial on Friday.
Considered as one of the top female athletes in the world, the 6-foot-9 centre was seen in handcuffs, surrounded by prison guards.
Fewer than one percent of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and acquittals can be overturned, reports AP.
A rumoured prison swap could also be on the cards as supporters are drawing comparisons to earlier in April when Marine veteran Trevor Reed was brought back to the US in exchange for a Russian pilot, convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy.
Russian media have speculated about a prison swap for Russian arms trader Viktor Bout, nicknamed 'The Merchant of Death,' who is serving a 25-year sentence on conviction of conspiracy to kill US citizens and providing aid to a terrorist organisation.
On Sunday, US secretary of state Antony Blinken, was asked about the potential swap.
He said: “As a general proposition… I have got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home.
“I can’t comment in any detail on what we’re doing, except to say this is an absolute priority.”
As Moscow-Washington relations remain on the ropes due to the war in Ukraine, Joe Biden has recently praised the continued unity of the West during a pre-summit sit-down with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
"We’ve got to make sure we have us all staying together," Mr Biden, 79, said
"You know, we’re gonna continue working on economic challenges that we face but I think we get through all this."
Russia is also reportedly very close to defaulting on its national debt for the first time in decades.
The continued implementation of Western sanctions has proved costly to Russia's economy, as the country has found it difficult to keep up with its payments of $40 billion on outstanding bonds.
They have pretty much been cut off from the global finance system.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information.