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Basketball star Brittney Griner awaits fate in Russia drugs trial

By :Reuters
Published : Aug 04, 2022 09:49:00 AM | Sports

U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner returns to a Russian court on Thursday as her drugs trial grinds towards a finale that could end with a 10-year prison sentence and a U.S.-Russia prisoner swap for one of the world's most notorious arms dealers.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and a Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Feb. 17 with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.

Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

The cartridges threw the 31-year-old Texan athlete into the geopolitical maelstrom triggered when President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

During the most strained U.S.-Russian relations since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, U.S. President Joe Biden is under pressure to intervene on behalf of detained Americans - including Griner.

The United States has said Griner was wrongfully detained and made what Secretary of State Antony Blinken called a substantial offer to Moscow to exchange Russian prisoners for American citizens held in Russia, including Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.