Brittney Griner: Russian courtroom schedules begin of trial for Friday, her lawyer says

Griner — who has been held in Russia since her arrest at a Moscow airport on allegations of tried drug smuggling — attended the preliminary listening to in individual Monday, arriving at courtroom handcuffed and flanked by guards in black vests, in keeping with a photograph by AFP photographer Kirill Kudryavstev.

Her lawyer, Alexander Boykov, beforehand advised CNN the listening to would happen behind closed doorways on the Khimki courtroom, simply exterior Moscow.

Griner, 31, a Phoenix Mercury participant who performs in Russia in the course of the WNBA’s offseason, was arrested February 17. Russian authorities claimed she had hashish oil in her baggage and accused her of smuggling important quantities of a narcotic substance, an offense punishable by as much as 10 years in jail.

WNBA star Brittney Griner arrives at a hearing at the Khimki court outside Moscow on Monday.

Griner’s detention, which has been repeatedly prolonged, has sparked a wave of help amongst dozens of organizations within the US which have joined Cherelle Griner, Brittney Griner’s spouse, in urging President Joe Biden to strike an trade cope with Russian authorities to launch Griner and convey her dwelling safely as quickly as potential.

Griner’s supporters have expressed concern that she is likely to be used as a political pawn, given rising tensions amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
READ: Dozens of organizations signal letter calling on President Biden to strike deal for Brittney Griner’s launch

Greater than 40 organizations — together with the Nationwide Affiliation for the Development of Coloured Individuals, Human Rights Marketing campaign, GLAAD, the Nationwide City League and the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Gamers Affiliation — signed a letter to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris calling for motion to get Griner launched.

Families of Americans detained abroad call for urgent action from Biden to free their loved ones

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Cherelle Griner one-on-one final Wednesday, in keeping with a senior State Division official. And US nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan advised reporters aboard Air Drive One on Tuesday he and Blinken spoke with Cherelle “in the previous few days … to convey that we simply cannot even start to think about what the household should be going by” and what “Brittney should be going by.”

Cherelle Griner stated final week she hasn’t talked to her spouse since February 17.

“I’ve obtained no increased precedence than ensuring that People who’re being illegally detained in a method or one other around the globe come dwelling,” Sec. Blinken advised CNN’s “State of the Union” on the Group of seven summit Sunday.

“That features Paul Whelan, that features Brittney Griner, that features individuals in plenty of different nations,” he added. Whelan is a US citizen who was detained in Moscow in 2018 and arrested on espionage expenses. He has denied the fees.

“I can not remark in any element on what we’re doing, besides to say that is an absolute precedence,” Blinken stated.

Whereas Griner’s trial has been scheduled, that ought to not stop US officers from making an attempt to barter her launch, her agent said on Twitter, calling Monday’s listening to “administrative in nature and never on the deserves.”

“The negotiation for her speedy launch whatever the authorized proceedings ought to stay a high precedence,” Lindsay Kagawa Colas wrote, “and we anticipate @POTUS and @VP to do every part of their energy, proper now, to get a deal performed to convey her dwelling.”

Dozens of organizations sign letter calling on President Biden to strike deal for Brittney Griner's release

The US Embassy in Moscow will ship a US diplomat to Brittney Griner’s listening to on Friday, a US official advised CNN.

A State Division spokesperson reiterated that the Griner is “wrongfully detained,” and stated that help for her and her household will proceed. “The US authorities will proceed to offer acceptable help to Ms. Griner and her household. We are going to proceed to ​press for her launch.”

Griner was named an honorary WNBA All-Star Recreation starter final week, with the All-Star Recreation scheduled to happen on July 10 in Chicago.

Griner’s detention overseas continues to be “robust on our group,” Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard advised reporters earlier than the group’s recreation Monday in opposition to the Indiana Fever.

She expressed hope Griner will return dwelling quickly and that President Joe Biden will “take the steps to make sure that she comes dwelling.”

CNN’s Kylie Atwood and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.