WNBA star Brittney Griner stands trial in Russia on drug charge
Share this @internewscast.com

The U.S. State Department said in May that Griner is being “wrongfully detained by the Russian government,” an official classification that means the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, working in coordination with the department, can be more aggressive in its efforts to secure her release.

Following a pretrial hearing on Monday, a State Department spokesperson said it “will continue to ​press for her release.”

But experts in Russian law say Griner’s best option to obtain her release would be through diplomatic channels rather than the legal system. Marijuana is illegal in Russia for recreational and medical purposes, and fewer than 1% of all criminal cases in the country end in acquittal, according to Reuters.

Prison time in a penal colony is all but guaranteed if Griner is convicted on charges of large-scale transportation of drugs, and she could be locked up between five and 10 years, said William E. Butler, the author of “Russian Law and Legal Institutions” and a professor at Penn State Dickinson Law.

Russia’s criminal code can allow a court to impose a less than the minimum sentence, Butler said, but lawyers must give a persuasive argument.

Many of the details surrounding Griner’s trial have been murky. Butler said she would likely face a bench trial, as opposed to a jury one, and he would expect a verdict to come on the same day the trial ends.

Butler said these types of trials might last no more than a day, but “since we know nothing of her side of the story, one cannot be sure.” Griner would have the chance to appeal if she is found guilty.

Thomas Firestone, a former Justice Department official who worked as a lawyer in Moscow, said he is aware of one recent case similar to Griner’s that took about two-and-a-half months to conclude. An acquittal in Griner’s case, he added, would be “very unlikely.”

Firestone believes the trial will be watched closely by officials at the Kremlin. Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA championship winner with the Mercury, is no ordinary American detainee, and former diplomats have suggested President Vladimir Putin may view her as a potential bargaining chip for a high-profile Russian national detained in the United States.

Experts say among those Russia would want in a prison swap is Viktor Bout, an international arms dealer dubbed the Merchant of Death who was given a 25-year sentence in 2011 for conspiring to sell weapons to rebels in Colombia.

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on “Meet the Press NOW” on Monday that Putin is withholding Griner as part of a “strategy of basically intimidation.”

But a Putin spokesman disputed the State Department’s position that Griner is a Russian hostage, telling NBC News she is no different from “hundreds and hundreds of Russian citizens that were sentenced for carrying hashish.”

Meanwhile, Griner’s supporters, including her wife and fellow WNBA players, continue to rally around her during basketball games and on social media with the hashtag #WeAreBG.

Wife Cherelle Griner, in an interview Wednesday with the Rev. Al Sharpton, said she has received letters from her spouse in which she said she is “holding on,” but believes she’s still “struggling. She’s there terrified. She’s there alone.”

Cherelle Griner said on Sharpton’s SiriusXM radio show, “Keepin’ It Real,” that she hasn’t spoken to her wife since Feb. 17. The couple was supposed to speak this month on the date of their fourth anniversary, but a logistical error with the American embassy reportedly failed to connect their call.

Cherelle Griner added that the trial against her wife is already stacked against her.

“Nothing about this is justice,” she said.

Share this @internewscast.com
You May Also Like
Oswaldo Cabrera picks up first big league hit in Yankees' loss

Oswaldo Cabrera picks up first big league hit in Yankees’ loss

On an otherwise dull day for the Yankees’ offense, Oswaldo Cabrera provided…
Solange Knowles becomes first Black woman to compose score for NYC Ballet

Solange Knowles becomes first Black woman to compose score for NYC Ballet

(The Hill) — R&B singer Solange Knowles has become the first Black…
AP Conveniently Updates 'Stylebook' - Again

AP Conveniently Updates ‘Stylebook’ – Again

It never fails to amaze me how often dictionary publishers alter their…
Brett Baty's special night latest chapter in Mets' storybook season

Brett Baty’s special night latest chapter in Mets’ storybook season

The Mets are having one of those seasons in which just about…
Construction on Obama Presidential Center in Chicago takes a collaborative effort

Construction on Obama Presidential Center in Chicago takes a collaborative effort

CHICAGO (CBS) — Drive by the site of the Obama Presidential Center…
An American male in his 70s who was self quarantining after testing positive at the Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Great Exuma, Bahamas, died on Tuesday. His death is the fourth death at the resort in three months

American tourist in his 70s dies at Sandals resort in the Bahamas after suffering COVID-19 symptoms

An American tourist in his 70s has died at a Sandals resort…
‘House of the Dragon’ Review: The ‘Game of Thrones’ Spin-off is Better Than the Original

‘House of the Dragon’ Review: The ‘Game of Thrones’ Spin-off is Better Than the Original

You might feel burned by Game of Thrones, but House of the…
Meet Jay Shetty, wedding officiant for Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck

Meet Jay Shetty, wedding officiant for Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have hired one of the world’s most…