WNBA star Brittney Griner will appear in court on Monday in a city just outside of Moscow, her lawyer says
WNBA player Brittney Griner is scheduled to appear in a Russian courtroom on Monday for a preliminary hearing in her ongoing efforts to return to the United States, her lawyer Alexander Boykov told ABC News.
The hearing, CNN reported, was set to begin at 2 p.m. local time at the Khimki city court just outside Moscow. According to the Associated Press, the goal of the hearing is to address “procedural issues.”
Griner, 31, will appear behind closed doors, CNN reported.
A court date has not been announced yet though is expected soon, the outlet said. Earlier this month, Russian state media agency TASS reported that a court has ruled to keep Griner in custody through at least July 2.
Griner’s hearing comes more than four months after she was detained. In February, the Phoenix Mercury player was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow after officials allegedly found vape cartridges containing hash oil, an illegal substance in Russia, in her luggage.
The U.S. State Department later officially classified Griner as wrongfully detained by the Russian Federation. “Our position for some time on this has been very clear. Brittney Griner should not be detained. She should not be detained for a single day longer,” Ned Price, State Department spokesperson, said in a June 14 press briefing.
On Saturday, the Phoenix Mercury released a statement via Twitter to announce the House of Representatives had passed Congressman Greg Stanton’s bipartisan resolution to push for her release.
“Stanton and many others are continuing to work with the White House, State Department and Brittney’s family to secure her safe return,” the team tweeted.
In a statement, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, expressed her gratitude “for this overwhelming show of support from Congress.”
“We need to be doing all we can to keep Brittney’s case on the forefront and finally put an end to this nightmare,” she added.
According to the Associated Press, Griner’s case is now being handled by the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, which focuses on hostage release and freeing Americans it determines have been wrongfully detained.
“This resolution sends a clear message: securing Brittney’s release must be the highest priority of the U.S. Government, and we know the American people support every effort made to bring her home,” Terri Carmichael Jackson, executive director of the WNBA added in a statement on Saturday.
If convicted, Griner faces up to 10 years in prison.[via]