Lee Heidhues 5.14.2022
The disturbing photo of American basketball Brittney Griner star hooded and handcuffed in a Moscow courtroom on May 13 is sad, barbaric and reprehensible.
Detained by Vladimir Putin’s Police State for allegedly possessing hash oil since February, the 31 year old is looking at 10 years in Putin’s gulag. Brittney Griner has become a pawn in Putin’s aggression against Ukraine.
Excerpted from The New York Times 5.14.2022
A court in Russia on Friday extended the pretrial detention of the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner until June 18, her lawyer said.
While Ms. Griner was arrested one week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian authorities did not reveal her detention until days after the war began, raising fears she could be used as a bargaining chip in the overall crisis.
Ms. Griner, one of the most decorated athletes in women’s basketball, has been in Russian custody since mid-February on drug charges that can carry up to 10 years in prison. The charge is based on allegations that she had vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage when she was stopped at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow in February.
Ms. Griner appeared in court in the town of Khimki near Moscow for a procedural hearing on Friday, according to her lawyer, Aleksandr Boikov.
“She is OK,” Mr. Boikov said in an interview, adding that the court denied his appeal to have Ms. Griner transferred to house arrest. He said he expects the trial to begin in about two months.
The U.S. State Department has said it had determined Ms. Griner was “wrongfully detained,” signaling its intention to get more actively involved in the situation.
Ms. Griner’s team and family have been relatively quiet about her situation.
A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Ms. Griner is one of several American players who compete for international teams in the off-season period to supplement their W.N.B.A. paychecks. She has played for the UMMC team in Yekaterinburg, Russia, since 2014.