As the WNBA gears up for its All-Star Weekend, one of their most recognizable players, Brittney Griner, appears in a Russian court. MADAMENOIRE previously reported, Griner’s pretrial detention end-date is July 2. Griner’s current court appearance has shifted the timeline. The female baller’s trial is now scheduled to begin July 1. Video posted on Twitter by an NPR Correspondent shows the All-Star athlete as she arrives to court:
Griner’s arrest was reported back in March 2022, though the specific day has not been confirmed. The WNBA champion is accused of the attempt to smuggle cannabis oil and vape pens through Sheremetyevo International Airport in Russia. The arrest is viewed by some as a political move by the Russian government.
Fans, friends and family were initially quiet about Griner’s arrest. The lower her profile the less likely she could be used as a political bargaining chip against the United States. Still—with no discernible progress made to return Griner to the U.S., the American government has switched tactics. As MN reported in June, Griner’s status has been changed to wrongfully detained. Her case is being handed over to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA.)
While SPEHA works behind the scenes to get Griner home safely, fans and loved ones have become more vocal about the detainment and are making sure Griner isn’t forgotten about.
The WNBA released an official statement naming Griner an honorary All-Star player. WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert spoke on her decision to honor Griner:
“During each season of Brittney’s career in which there has been an All-Star Game, she has been selected as an All-Star,” said Engelbert. “It is not difficult to imagine that if BG were here with us this season, she would once again be selected and would, no doubt, show off her incredible talents.”
Elected officials in Griner’s residential state, Arizona, are doing what they can to help expedite her homecoming. Arizona Rep. Greg Stanton spearheaded a bipartisan resolution urging Russia to free Griner, according to Arizona Central.
“I’ve been lucky enough to watch Brittney develop and grow as a professional athlete, but also as a leader in our Phoenix community. We won’t stop working until she’s safely back with her family,”
Getting Griner back safe is going to be a challenge. Russian acquittal rates are less than 1 percent. If convicted, Griner faces up to 10 years in a Russian prison. Russian law expert William Pomeranz shared his perspective:
“I assume she’ll have a trial,” said Pomeranz, who has practiced law in Russia. “I assume she’ll be convicted. There is a 99% conviction rate in the Russian Federation. Pomeranz continues,
“In light of the relations between the U.S. and Russia, I have every belief that the Russians will make an example of this poor woman.”