The trial for Brittney Griner, a WNBA star who has been detained in Russia for more than four months on drug charges, begins Friday.
Griner, 31, was arrested on Feb. 17, after authorities at a Moscow area airport allegedly found cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage — prompting a criminal charge of smuggling drugs into Russia. She could face up to 10 years in prison if she’s convicted.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and star center with the Phoenix Mercury, has now been in custody for 134 days. The ordeal began one week before Russia invaded Ukraine. Her detention repeatedly has been extended, and her request for home detention was denied.
On Monday, a judge ordered Griner to be detained for the length of her trial.
In early May, the Biden administration declared Griner to be wrongfully detained by Russia’s government, signaling that the U.S. would get aggressive in the pursuit of her freedom and return home.
She’s being held as a hostage, the U.S. said. The State Department has said that the “Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs will lead the interagency team for securing Brittney Griner’s release.”
The trial is expected to start at 5 a.m. Eastern Friday.