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Brittney Griner detainment in Russia timeline: Everything we currently know about the Phoenix Mercury star’s legal situation

The WNBA started a brand new season on Might 6, however one main off-the-court storyline looms giant over the 2022 marketing campaign.

Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia for months, and it’s unclear when she’s going to have the ability to return to the USA. The 31-year-old, who has performed for UMMC Ekaterinburg within the Russian Premier League throughout the WNBA offseason, was arrested in February after the Russian Federal Customs Service claimed it discovered cannabis oil in her baggage at an airport close to Moscow.

A felony case has been opened into the “large-scale transportation of medication,” and if Griner is convicted, she may withstand 10 years in jail.

What’s Griner’s standing? And the way has the U.S. authorities approached her detainment amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

Here is how her authorized scenario has performed out thus far.

Brittney Griner timeline: Her detainment in Russia and what adopted

March 5 — The New York Occasions and Russian Information company TASS first reported that Griner was detained after customs service officers mentioned they discovered vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her baggage on the Sheremetyevo airport. The customs service additionally launched a video of a person on the airport who seems to be Griner going by means of safety.

Russian state TV confirmed a photograph of Griner as a part of a section that aired on March 5. The picture was reportedly taken at a Russian police station.

Russian state TV has launched a photograph of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was arrested on drug expenses within the nation after Russian officers say hashish oil was present in her baggage. CNN’s @RosaFlores has the story. pic.twitter.com/SzB9MSSQfY

— CNN (@CNN) March 8, 2022

The WNBA launched an announcement saying the league would proceed to help Griner and its high precedence was “her swift and secure return to the USA.” Griner’s spouse, Cherelle, additionally launched an announcement thanking followers for his or her “prayers and help” and asking for privateness as she labored on “getting my spouse house safely.”

A league spokesperson instructed The New York Occasions that each one WNBA gamers apart from Griner have been out of Russia and Ukraine.

March 6 — United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed Griner’s arrest throughout a press convention.

“There’s solely a lot I can say given the privateness issues at this level,” Blinken mentioned. “Let me simply say extra usually, each time an American is detained anyplace on the earth, we in fact stand prepared to supply each attainable help, and that features in Russia, as you already know, and we have talked about this for a very long time once we speak about in search of the discharge of Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed for a while, each of whom are unjustly detained. 

“Now we have an embassy group that is engaged on the instances of different Individuals who’re detained in Russia. We’re doing every part we will to see to it that their rights are upheld and revered.”

March 17 — A TASS report indicated that Griner’s detention in Russia had been prolonged till Might 19, permitting prosecutors to proceed investigating her case.

“The courtroom granted the petition of the investigation and prolonged the time period of U.S. citizen Griner’s detention till Might 19,” a Moscow courtroom mentioned, per TASS.

A U.S. State Division spokesperson mentioned the division had been doing “every part we will” to help Griner however didn’t supply further particulars due to privateness issues. Griner and her representatives had not commented on how she would plead to the fees.

March 23 — After pushing for entry to Griner, U.S. consular officers have been in a position to go to her in Russia for the primary time.

“A U.S. consular official was in a position to confirm that she is doing in addition to could be anticipated,” a U.S. State Division spokesperson mentioned. “We’ll proceed to work intently along with her authorized group and her broader community.”

Griner had reportedly been in a position to talk along with her household by means of her attorneys.

April 27 — The Biden administration introduced that former Marine Trevor Reed, who had been held in Russia since 2019, was launched from custody as a part of a prisoner trade. Reed was accused of assaulting a police officer and sentenced to 9 years in jail in 2020, although he has maintained his innocence.

“The negotiations that allowed us to carry Trevor house required troublesome choices that I don’t take frivolously,” President Joe Biden mentioned in an announcement. “His secure return is a testomony to the precedence my Administration locations on bringing house Individuals held hostage and wrongfully detained overseas.”

ESPN reported that, whereas there are notable variations between the 2 instances, Griner’s group was inspired by Reed’s launch. Cherelle launched an announcement saying she was “overflowing with pleasure” for Reed’s household.  

“I don’t personally know them, however I do know the ache of getting the one you love detained abroad,” Cherelle mentioned within the assertion. “That degree of ache is fixed and might solely be remedied by a secure return house.”

Might 3 — ESPN reported that the U.S. authorities now considers Griner to be “wrongfully detained” by the Russian authorities. Which means the U.S. authorities will search to barter her return relatively than let her authorized case play out.

“Brittney has been detained for 75 days and our expectation is that the White Home do no matter is critical to carry her house,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, mentioned in an announcement to ESPN.

A State Division official instructed ESPN that Griner will not be thought of a hostage, as that time period falls underneath a unique authorized classification than wrongful detainee.

Moreover, the WNBA introduced that it’ll function Griner’s initials and jersey quantity (No. 42) on the sideline of all WNBA courts this season. The league additionally granted the Mercury roster and wage cap aid to allow them to carry a substitute participant. Griner will proceed to be paid her full wage ($227,900).

“As we start the 2022 season, we’re protecting Brittney on the forefront of what we do by means of the sport of basketball and locally,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert mentioned in an announcement. “We proceed to work on bringing Brittney house and are appreciative of the help the group has proven BG and her household throughout this terribly difficult time.”

Might 13 — Griner’s lawyer, Alexander Boykov, instructed The Related Press that Griner’s detention had been prolonged by one month. ESPN reported {that a} decide had denied a request to maneuver Griner to house detention.

“We didn’t obtain any complaints concerning the detention circumstances from our shopper,” Boykov mentioned.

Might 25 — Cherelle instructed ESPN that she requested a gathering with President Biden, however she has not but spoken to him.

“If he’s the individual that can get my individual again, I might love to fulfill him,” Cherelle mentioned. “I’ve requested a gathering with him. I hope he accepts within the close to future to fulfill with me as a result of I would like my individual again.

“I really feel each second that BG will not be right here. Most individuals are counting by the times, nevertheless it’s not days for me.”

In the identical interview, Cherelle mentioned that she is in a “place of full vulnerability proper now” and has to belief folks she did not know previous to Griner’s detainment. Whereas she has not spoken on to her spouse, she has been instructed that Griner is “doing OK.”

June 13 — State Division officers met with members of the Mercury group to debate Griner’s standing.

“We’re right here to do no matter we will to amplify and maintain BG on the forefront, which is extra essential than any basketball recreation and the rest that is occurring in our lives,” Mercury star Diana Taurasi mentioned after the assembly. “We wish BG to come back house as quickly as attainable. It is primary on our listing.”

June 14 — A Russian courtroom prolonged the detention for Griner by means of a minimum of July 2, in response to ABC Information, which cited reporting from TASS. Her detention was prolonged at “the request of the investigation,” in response to a consultant from the Khimki Courtroom of the Moscow Area, per TASS.

June 27 — A Russian courtroom set the beginning date of Griner’s felony trial for July 1, in response to The Related Press. Griner has been ordered to stay in custody at some point of her felony trial.

July 1 — Griner’s trial started in a Moscow courtroom. A prosecutor claimed that Griner smuggled lower than a gram of hashish oil in her baggage.

“Being sufficiently conscious that the motion of narcotic medicine will not be allowed… no later than February 17, 2022, at an unspecified location underneath unspecified circumstances from an unidentified individual [Griner] purchased two cartridges for private use, which contained 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil, totaling 0.702 grams,” the prosecutor mentioned, in response to CNN, which cited reporting from TASS.

Griner didn’t enter a plea or make any feedback on the fees. The following listening to of the trial is scheduled to happen on July 7.

July 4 — A handwritten latter from Griner was delivered to the White Home. Griner’s representatives shared this excerpt, amongst others:

I notice you might be coping with a lot, however please remember about me and the opposite American Detainees. Please do all you may to carry us house. I voted for the primary time in 2020 and I voted for you. I consider in you. I nonetheless have a lot good to do with my freedom you can assist restore. I miss my spouse! I miss my household! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they’re struggling a lot proper now. I’m grateful for no matter you are able to do at this second to get me house.

July 5 — White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that President Biden had learn Griner’s letter, saying that this problem is “a precedence for this president.”

“We consider she is wrongfully detained,” Jean-Pierre mentioned. “We consider she wants to come back house.”

July 6 — President Biden spoke with Cherelle, reassuring her that he’s “working to safe Brittney’s launch as quickly as attainable.”

“The president supplied his help to Cherelle and Brittney’s household, and he dedicated to making sure they’re supplied with all attainable help whereas his administration pursues each avenue to carry Brittney house,” the White Home mentioned in an announcement.

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