US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner, center, arrives for a hearing at the Khimki Court outside Moscow, Russia July 1. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)
The prosecutor in the trial of WNBA player Brittney Griner announced the charges against her on Friday in a court near Moscow, Russia’s state news agency TASS reported.
At the Khimki City Court, a prosecutor accused Griner of smuggling less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. Prosecutors believe that Griner’s intention at the time was to import the drugs into the territory of Russia, packing the banned substances in a backpack and a suitcase, according to TASS.
The Phoenix Mercury star is playing in the off-season of the WNBA in Russia and was arrested at a Moscow airport a week before Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year.
When Griner arrived on a Feb. 17 flight from New York to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, “an inspection found two cartridges of hash oil in her carry-on luggage,” according to TASS.
Cannabis oil is under control on the territory of the Russian Federation and is classified as a narcotic according to TASS.
Smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic is punishable by up to 10 years in prison in Russia.
US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood said she was able to speak with Griner in the courtroom and that the US government is working “very hard” to get Griner and other “illegally detained citizens” home safely.
“She is doing as well as can be expected in these difficult circumstances and has asked me to let her know that she is in good spirits and keeping up the faith,” Rood added.
Griner’s attorneys, Alexander Boykov and Maria Blagovolina, said they were not aware of any plans to swap Griner for a Russian prisoner being held in the US in an impromptu presser at the end of the first day of the trial.
The court will hear the case again next week on July 7 at 2:30 p.m. local time.
What Griner’s wife says: Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, told CNN on Thursday she wants US officials to do whatever it takes to bring the basketball legend home — and she needs to see them do more.
“It’s really, really difficult. This is not a situation where rhetoric matches action,” she said. “Unfortunately, I have to push people to make sure the things they tell me are consistent with their actions and that’s why finding a balance was the hardest part because I can’t slack off. It’s been over 130 days and BG still isn’t back.”
She also said she would “absolutely” love to meet with US President Joe Biden and humanize Brittney for him so he can “see BG the way we see BG.”
“While everyone wants to tell me they care, I’d love for him to tell me he cares,” she added.
Read more from her interview here.
CNN’s Abby Phillip and Steve Almasy contributed to this post.