Brittney Griner’s wife says she will not be quiet any more
More than four months after her arrest in Moscow, US women’s basketball star Brittney Griner appeared in a Russian court on Friday for what was expected to be the beginning of her trial on drug charges.
The 31-year-old athlete was seen arriving at Khimki City Court outside of Moscow in handcuffs shortly after noon local time, with US embassy staff in attendance.
She then heard her charges, including intentionally transporting narcotics. Facing up to 10 years in prison in Russia, Griner accepted the charges and did not enter a plea, reports said.
A centre for the Phoenix Mercury, Griner had played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia during the WNBA off-season, and was arrested on her way home when Russian airport officials say they found vape cartridges with traces of hashish oil – an offence in the country.
Lawyers for Griner – whose wife has pleaded for US President Joe Biden to meet with her and secure the WNBA’s star release – believe the trial will last two months, reports say. Proceedings resume on Thursday 7 July.
White House insists Brittney Griner a ‘priority’
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday said the case of WNBA star and US olympian Brittney Griner’s continued detention in Russia is “a priority” for President Joe Biden and his administration after a letter from the basketball player to Mr Biden was made public by Ms Griner’s family.
“This is an issue that is a priority for this President,” said Ms Jean-Pierre, who noted that the US has classified Ms Griner as being “wrongfully detained” by the Russian government.
Oliver O’Connell5 July 2022 21:30
State Department not commenting in any detail on Griner case
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price says the US is not in a position to comment publicly “in any detail” on Brittney Griner’s detainment in Russia: “We do not want to say anything that would potentially jeopardise the chances of seeing an American released.”
Oliver O’Connell5 July 2022 21:10
Asked about the criticism the administration has faced regarding its response to Ms Griner’s situation, Ms Jean-Pierre replies that they will do the same work they did when Trevor Reed was freed.
Oliver O’Connell5 July 2022 20:57
Biden has read letter, US will use ‘every tool’ to get Griner out of Russia
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says President Joe Biden has read Brittney Griner’s handwritten letter to him.
“The president did read the letter. I was there when he read the letter.”
She adds that Ms Griner is being “wrongfully detained,” and “this is an issue that is a priority for this president.”
Ms Jean-Pierre says the government will use “every tool” to try to get her out of detention in Russia.
Oliver O’Connell5 July 2022 20:40
Brittney Griner’s ‘Heart and Sole’ shoe donation programme continues during lockup
Brittney Griner isn’t just known for her high-flying achievements on the court as a member of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
The detained basketball star also started a programme in the city called Heart and Sole that donates shoes to unhoused people walking the hot streets of Arizona barefoot.
Here’s more about the initiative, courtesy of ESPN.
Oliver O’Connell5 July 2022 20:30
Former US ambassador to Russia agrees with prisoner swap idea
Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul appeared an MSNBC today to discuss Brittney Griner’s letter urging action from President Biden to get her and other Americans illegally detained in Russia back home.
“This is not a terrorist organization. This is a government, and they should consider this swap. Not just Brittney Griner, as she rightly writes in her letter, but also Paul Whelan and Mark Fogel, another American wrongly detained in Russia,” Mr McFaul told Andrea Mitchell.
It has been floated that international arms dealer Victor Bout, currently detained by the US, could be traded for the three Americans.
“Ten more years of Victor Bout in jail versus those three Americans staying in jail for a decade, I would take that trade,” adds Mr McFaul.
Oliver O’Connell5 July 2022 19:34
A tale of two Brit(t)neys
Will the Brittney Griner movement turn out the way the Free Brittney did?
That’s a pointed question that’s been raised by Twitter user @ItsDanaWhite.
“Need a world where Brittney Griner gets the movement of support Britney Spears received,” he wrote on Saturday.
Fans spent years pushing for pop star Britney Spears to be released from a highly restrictive financial conservatorship controlled by her father.
Oliver O’Connell5 July 2022 19:00
‘I will not be quiet anymore’
Ms Griner appealed directly to the president to help her efforts to win freedom from detention in Russia on alleged drug charges involving hashish oil.
Her family has had no success in contacting the president regarding the issue, which led the Phoenix Mercury centre to write to Mr Biden in person.
Oliver O’Connell5 July 2022 18:00
Martin Luther King, Jr’s daughter weighs in on Brittney Griner case
Bernice King, daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr, is the latest leader to call for Brittney Griner to be released from prison in Russia.
“I am very concerned about #BrittneyGriner and her holistic well being,” Ms Kind wrote on social media on Saturday. “I urge U.S. government officials, including our State Department, to persist in working diligently to expedite Brittney’s release.”
Oliver O’Connell5 July 2022 17:00
Another detained pro athlete in Russia under murky circumstances
NHL player Ivan Fedotov is reportedly missing after he was detained in Russia earlier this week and told to register with the Russian army.
“At the moment, there is no connection with Ivan,” his lawyer, Alexei Ponomarev, told state news agency RIA Novosti. “We are investigating the situation. Is it known where he is? Unfortunately no. We are investigating.”
Under Russian law, males between the ages of 18 and 27 must serve a year in the Russian forces, a mandate that’s only gotten more urgent as Vladimir Putin seeks 134,500 conscripts for his invaison of Ukraine.
The Russian-born hockey player reportedly fell ill at the enlistment office in St Petersburg and was hospitalised, according to RIA Novosti.
His lawyer said the player was then taken to Severomorsk, in Russia’s far north.
The goalkeeper said in April he planned to leave Moscow’s CSKA hockey club, and in May he signed a deal with the NHL’s Phildalphia Flyers.
The Russian club claims Mr Fedotov illegally broke his contract.
Oliver O’Connell5 July 2022 15:45